Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 28 December 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
No he doesn’t wear that deerstalker hat and that Inverness cape. He DOES smoke a pipe, but not the type made famous by Basil Rathbone (that was a Hollywood fabrication, anyway). He appears to be more hoodlum than hero.
This is not your parents’ Sherlock Holmes.
What you encounter here is a younger, brasher version of the sleuth, before the onset of impulse control or social mores. This Holmes is detail-minded and sharp as a glass needle, full of passionate energy that spills out in a manner more befitting a ruffian than a ruminator. He is eccentric, unkempt, endlessly analytical, disheveled, and brilliant as well as bombastic, with the intellect of a scientist and the observational powers of a microscope. He also looks and acts as if he’s been hitting the absinthe a bit too hard.
By contrast, his best friend, the youthful Dr. Watson is romantic, fastidious, level-headed, and just as clever – but observes societal conventions a bit more. He’s a young, highly educated dandy but no slouch when it comes to devotion to Holmes or special-ops-like skills against the enemy. Nigel Bruce he’s not.
The witty duo thrust and parry clever quips with rapier speed and devastating aim. Their brotherly camaraderie is capable of experiencing tension and disagreement (Holmes is always experimenting with questionable substances on Watson’s prized bulldog, knocking the poor animal out). To make matters worse, Watson is vacating the apartment both men share because of a love interest, something that alarms and puzzles Holmes. Fasten your seatbelts indeed, and this is not even the major conflict.
The real/reel action begins and ends with Black Magic-practicing Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and his penchant for human sacrifice (female) and murdering targeted individuals (male) in a scheme to control Parliament and in general gain all kinds of omnipotent power. What villain can you think of that doesn’t want this? After Holmes and Watson successfully aid in Blackwood’s apprehension and execution, the villain unexpectedly rises from the grave to wreak further havoc on London’s aristocracy.
Add to this Watson’s surprising, sudden engagement to Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly); Holmes’ habit of bare-knuckle fighting in a filthy arena where wagers are made; the sudden reappearance of onetime lover Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in a concurrent subplot tied to Holmes’ investigation (she’s been hired by yet another shadowy character); and secret sting operations that involve Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) a man who recognizes the need for Holmes’ invaluable assistance, but simultaneous resents the maverick’s genius.
The stage is set for fast-paced cat and mouse thriller full of muck-filled clues, tiny yet crucial crime-scene observations, grand schemes and an outstanding slow motion explosion that is dizzying to behold.
Downey’s charisma fairly drips off of the screen with an impenetrable calm punctuated by the hyperactive movement you’d expect from an adrenalin junkie. He manages to contain the two divergent qualities within one battle-scarred body and we believe him.
Law possesses a dashing melancholy that Watson carries effortlessly, being as (quietly) talented as his friend, but content to remain several rows away from the spotlight.
Rachel McAdams’ Adler is a formidable foil for Holmes and portrays the closest thing to his female counterpart with a mercenary sass and savvy. Mark Strong’s Blackwood is as venomous as a spitting cobra.
Director Guy Ritchie crafts a gritty yet fashionable backdrop for his protagonists’ adventures, making them younger and edgier than you remember. The atmospheric cinematography captures a tired decadence and a highly stylized, rough-hewn elegance of alternately regal and squalor-infested London in the late nineteenth century. It’s a man’s film, with little for the women to do but appear in corseted finery and keep the men in check (as much as that’s possible with rogue heroes like these). Still, Richie captures a grizzled, bustling metropolis beset by human vermin and defended by a shrewd renegade possessed of a deductive analysis that seems perpetually on overdrive.
It’s a rollercoaster of violence and discovery, as subtle as a shipyard collapse, and it’s not going to disappear anytime soon. Remember, Irene Adler has been hired by a sinister fellow who keeps to the shadows and hisses threats filled with mayhem. A sequel, you say? Excellent deduction.