Okay, so that was roughly around eleven years ago, but the promise of Richie's second film has been on diminishing returns ever since, having given us the flawed Snatch, a film with Madonna, and devolved into things such as RocknRoller. Sherlock Holmes, his first big screen, big budget film, completes the downward spiral and presents the audience with what can only be called one of the most boring cinema experiences I've had in the last six months. Admittedly, this isn't such a big thing because my film going has dropped to nothing, but I would tell you that your cash is better spent buying Murder She Wrote dvds, and watching as Angela Lansbury solves case after case, each episode filled with more actual detective work and mystery than Sherlock Holmes.
There's not much of Sir Conan Arthur Doyle's original vision in Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, but that's not a real problem. Cutting here, slicing there--interesting things can be done with adaptation. However, Ritchie's Holmes--played by Robert Downey Jnr, who we now all forgive for whatever he did in the past--is an eccentric, but brilliant man who cannot handle not being in control. This characterisation is not given much play, however, as Watson--played by Jude Law, who I think we're currently punishing for something--and Holmes' relationship becomes one of a buddy cop action film. Think Jackie Chan and Chris Rock in the Rush Hour films. Think Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys. Think Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon movies...
In fact, you should really think of the Lethal Weapon movies, since not only does Downey hold a passable resemblance to Gibson, but his life is meaningless without his non-sexual life partner, and he too has bad kung fu and meets all the wrong women. I can only imagine that the sequel will have Jet Li as Fu Manchu or something like that.
So, stripped of anything that might be interesting--cocaine usage, for example--Holmes and Watson become buddy cops involved in solving the mystery of Lord Blackwood, played by Martin Strong, and resembling a time lost Nazi. In fact, at one point during the film, I began to imagine a second plot line running in the back of the film. Bare with me here, because it's actually interesting. In this plot, Lord Blackwood, whose real name may or may not have been Fritz, was in the final days of Nazi Germany. He was a bad man. A man prone to burning. To black magic. To leaving the toilet seat up. But, this man, this Fritz Blackwood, is brilliant, and so he creates a means to escape his death at the hands of the Americans, and he creates a time travel machine. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and he ends up thrust back in time, and born in an orgy of a cult that may or may not bare a passing resemblance to the Freemasons, and is forced to grow up rich and powerful and involved in black magic. From there, he decides that he can get his revenge on the evil British, who thwarted the Nazi plan by enlisting the Americans--and its okay, because he'll get to kill an American during the film--he begins an elaborate and detailed plot to assume control of Britain to change history and result in a Nazi victory, years from now.
Which, really, is what this film should have been about.