2009 was a year of franchise reboots which allowed movies which have gone stale to get off to a new start. What better way to start 2010 than with a successful reboot of one of the oldest.
History affords us wisdom and 20/20 insight into what makes for a successful plot and a great movie. You have a good buddy partnership to kick things off, a good old cop theme, with a suspense thriller thrown in, spice things up with a sexy yet spunk maiden, add lots of gadget or intriguing science and finally bring it into the 21st century with a bang, or rather, lots of them.
This same mix has worked well for movies as diverse as can be, from Lethal Weapon, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Austin Powers to even McGuyver.
Guy Ritchie is Brit and has done some snappy movies, and he carries his signature style of fast flashbacks, tight editing peppered with good action sequences in between. Traditionalists may baulk at having Downey JR as Holmes, and the portrayal has him as more of an eccentric with flashes of brilliance, yet apart from updating him into more of an action man, Guy actually retains much of the old characteristics of sharp observer skills honed into good old fashioned detective skills, and he is aided by an also updated Watson, who is erstwhile a doctor and has a limp, but is a more lean (pun intended) version who can trade punches alongside Holmes instead of merely bumbling along. I did not like the ills of gambling, but along with the untidiness of Holmes, all this is some means in which Guy tries to humanize these two characters which have long acquired legendary status.
Although having an American as Holmes, especially one with an unconvincing British accent, Downey handles the part adroitly and he has genuine chemistry with Jude Law which bodes well for a sequel, which I am quite sure there will be one as the ending leaves no doubt of that. But no movie is complete without a strong villain and a good plot, and what better person than the sinister and menacing Mark Strong, in a story that has dark magic, take over the world plots, a resurrection to bring back to life an old franchise. Add Rachel McAdams who is not unlike Michelle Yeoh in James Bond, and you have a sexy lady who can handle the kicks and punches gamely whilst still able to look bootelicious.
The surround mix was also very good and with action sequences helping the already good plot along, you have action, chick factor, and good effects, which all combine to help make this a real keeper. There is a scene when Mark Strong's voice is projected all round, and the imaging is fabulous. There is plenty of use of the LFE and good ambience in moments of suspense.
At least 4/5 on all fronts.