I am totally loving Robert Downey Jr. v.2.0.
Downey Jr. has always been an extravagantly talented actor—but he was undisciplined, partly due to his well-documented personal problems and partly due to the fact that he was, well, young. But this seasoned Downey Jr. is in full command of his gifts—and what's more, he's sexier than ever. (Did I just write that out loud?). Casting Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes? Yes, please!
So for its brilliant casting alone, I have to praise Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, even if I agree with those who feel that Ritchie strayed way too far from Arthur Conan Doyle's vision of the character (a Holmes who's kicking butt and taking names? gimme a break.) But the script—doctored by no less than five writers—at least gives Downey Jr. a chance to shine. He makes snappy one-liners, is sharply observant, and amusingly misanthropic—just like the real Holmes.
And like all great actors, Downey Jr. seems to raise the game of those around him. Jude Law, as an exasperated but loyal Watson, hasn't been this appealing in years. And Rachel McAdams, last seen moping around with Eric Bana in the turgid The Time Travelers Wife, has gotten back her mojo playing the con-artist object of Holmes' affection.
The story is pure hokum—it seems that Ritchie isn't just content to make Holmes a pugilist, he wants to borrow from the Dan Brown playbook, too. In this version, Holmes is following a secret sect of powerful men who practice black magic. Things explode and come crashing out of windows, many axes and swords are wielded, and there's lots of Da Vinci Code-style chanting and symbology. It's silly, but it will bring the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes to a whole new generation—sort of.
It's a shame. If any actor could make a character who relied solely on his intellect a hero to the young, it's Downey Jr. Too bad Ritchie didn't give him the chance.