As the famous detective, Robert Downey Jr. puts a grubby, fighting twist on the new ‘Sherlock Holmes’ franchise.
Alex Bailey/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
In “Sherlock Holmes,” Robert Downey Jr. plays the famous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detective as a kind of kung fu Ratso Rizzo. This is certainly the grubbiest Holmes in movie history. When not slumming in the streets, he’s duking it out in the squalid East End as a bare-chested combatant in scenes resembling outtakes from “Fight Club.” What was the thinking behind all this? Was producer Joel Silver, director Guy Ritchie, and Ritchie’s team of screenwriters worried that young male audiences wouldn’t warm to a hero who valued brains over brawn? If so, they overcorrected, to put it mildly. Downey is a combustible, one-of-a-kind actor who deserves better than this crunch-and-thud bid for a new movie brand. The “Iron Man” brand is quite enough. Jude Law plays a debonair Dr. Watson and Rachel McAdams is wasted as a master criminal who gets the best of Holmes. It all has something to do with the plot of mad Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) to take over the world, but the real villain, Moriarty, is waiting in the wings. With any luck, the plot to launch a new franchise will fail and he’ll be waiting forever. Grade: C- (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images, and a scene of suggestive material.)