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When I selected these women I looked at:
- The quality of their acting
- The quantity of the work they'd done in the action genre
- How believable they were in the roles
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Finally, the great detective is portrayed the way Conan Doyle intended...
Everything about "Sherlock Holmes" is stunning, from the gritty, realistic Victorian London, to the wonderful performances by the film's fantastic four; Downey Jr, Law, McAdams and Strong. I enjoyed every minute of the film, and found that it matched the mental images that I had created while reading the books far better than any previous adaptation, and I include the celebrated Granada television series starring Jeremy Brett in that list.
Robert Downey Jr's Holmes is not a starched, middle aged gentleman with every hair in place who sits in an armchair and looks pensive, but as the man from the stories; a younger, rougher individual who is perfectly happy to play dirty to get what he wants, and whose body is as powerful as his mind. He's brilliant, and so is Director Guy Ritchie, who keeps Holmes' incredible deductive powers at the forefront of the movie by showing him using them to neutralise his opponents.
And Watson...Jude Law is perfect. Fat, bumbling old man? I think not. He never was in the books, and he isn't now. Instead, he's young, handsome, intelligent and not afraid to tell Holmes just what he thinks of the great detective's bad behaviour. His friendship with Holmes is everything it should be not the hero/sidekick dynamic created by Rathbone and Bruce, but rather a friendship between two men who are as close as brothers, and who can't live with each other, but can't live without each other either.
As for Irene Adler Rachel McAdams is pretty good. She didn't quite feel like Holmes equal, and she was a little young, but she certainly was a femme fatale, and had plenty of guts and gumption. She was also capable of getting down and dirty, which earned her a gold star in my book. Her relationship with Holmes is believable, and not nearly as romantic as some would claim. She flirts; he resists; she does something nasty to him. Like chaining him to a bed. Naked.
Last but not least, Mark Strong does a wonderful job as villainous Lord Blackwood, considering that he has to be a plausible antagonist, but not bad enough to outshine Moriarty, who is set to appear in the sequels. Strong has certainly set the benchmark for future Holmes' villains whoever is going to play Moriarty is, will have to be really evil now.
Overall, the film is gripping and very believable: the sets are beautifully detailed, none of the stunts are overdone, the actors all play their parts to perfection, and Guy Ritchie certainly wasn't the wrong man to direct; his confidence in his abilities is what allowed him to make the film dirty and gritty and fresh. When coupled with an amazing score by Hans Zimmer, this film is certainly the best film of 2009, and will continue to be great through 2010, and well into the future.