By John Anderson
By Nick Schager
By Anna Dimond
By Chris Klimek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Ciara LaVelle
By Scott Foundas
As overemphatic as one might expect from the ham-fisted Guy Ritchie, this resurrection of the world's most famous detective is a dank, noisy affair that unfolds in a gloomy London that seems a bootleg copy of A Christmas Carol's CGI set. Arthur Conan Doyle's detective was, in essence, a master of the 19th-century scientific method who used empirical observation and logical deduction to make sense of a chaotic universe; it's inevitable that his 21st-century avatar would be a buff superhero. In addition to being the smartest man on Earth, the new Holmes is a master of barehanded fisticuffs — using strategies derived from lightning physical calculations. As played by Robert Downey Jr. with gloomy insouciance, Holmes is also something of a hipster. He wears shades and, rather than the traditional deerstalker hat, favors a porkpie job with the brim turned up. Hollywood logic has further dictated that the movie be a bit of a buddy film, even a love story. Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is a good-looking bloke whose impending marriage drives Sherlock half-mad with jealousy. The wartime Holmes and Watson battled the Axis, as well as the Spider Woman. A few near-subliminal references to terrorism notwithstanding, there's little attempt to make super Holmes topical. The real mystery here is Downey. Whatever his personal demons, this actor seems immune from self-contempt. At least on the screen, he brings a wry conviction to even the most hackneyed role.
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