3 – Sherlock Holmes
Robert Downey Jr. was definitely on a career comeback (the sensational Iron Man the year prior) and this reboot of a British classic character ensured that. In Sherlock Holmes, Downey portrays the titular character with all the detective deciphering skills intact, along with the actor’s signature fast-paced speech delivery under a quasi-London mumble.
This film would also mark a foreseeable end to Ritchie’s mockney-cockney crime capers, and a move towards adaptations for major studios. In this, Ritchie focuses on Holmes’ quick-thinking abilities through the dialogue and slow-motion camerawork. This technique would be exploited greater in the second installment, but here it’s used well, and with purpose, notably Holmes’ boxing match – yeah, Holmes’ fighting skills hasn’t been greatly explored in popular culture.
Akin to his first two features, Ritchie uses the color palette most appropriate for the era i.e. the blackened soot for an Industrial Victorian London. Moreover, the style this film deploys marks a contrast to his earlier features, as it’s distinctly Hollywood, only with a Ritchie flare; the strength is in the dialogue – though he never wrote it – and the chemistry between Jude Law and Downey.
It’s a change to Guy Ritchie’s filmmaking career, and one that saved him from becoming a one-trick pony. He has since been able to evolve beyond his mockney-cockney origin, and to deliver entertaining contemporary adaptations of classic characters. Let’s hope he keeps this momentum with next year’s Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur.