Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

There are plenty of reasons to dislike Guy Ritchie's post-modern take on Sherlock Holmes, but here's the main one:

Unlike most heroes of American detective literature (Nero Wolfe being the rare exception), Arthur Conan Doyle's storied detective is not and never has been an action hero. Not that he's averse to a bit of rough-and-tumble in the name of self-defense -- but Conan Doyle's stories are singularly devoted to his creation's remarkable deductive skills, not his ability to outfight giants or outrun fireballs.

If Ritchie, an intriguing film stylist, and producer Joel Silver (whose ham-handed fingerprints are all over this film) wanted to make a James Bond film set in Victorian times, why call him Sherlock Holmes? Why not Terlock Scones? Merlock Bones? Parkway Homes?

Elementary, dear reader: Because this is a shameless bid at transforming Holmes and partner Dr. Watson (played by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law) into a franchise, a tentpole -- and all of that other Hollywood jargon that means: "a character who can be relied upon to make more than $100 million per film at the box office for years to come." After all, Harry Potter films won't last forever. But Holmes could be the gift that keeps on giving.

Instead, this Sherlock Holmes belongs on a shelf next to the Will Smith Wild Wild West: a remake that seems more excreted than created. Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes is too long, too generic (surprising, given Ritchie's always inventive visual and story-telling style) and not nearly as clever as it seems to think. It's yet another can-he-save-us-from-Doomsday plot, the kind James Bond was cutting his teeth on in movies 40-plus years ago.