Jan 132010

Always hated Guy Ritchie films: all bluster, empty flash and cartoon-brutal violence. As stomach-churningly unrealistic a portrayer of London gangster life as Richard Curtis is of its middle-class counterpart, Ritchie also had the temerity- him, an awkward, class-confused Englishman!- to find himself living with Madonna (for the official SAE stance on the former Mrs R, see here). So I knew this was going to be crap- superficially glittery-tricksy, noisy, self-consciously now. And it is all those things, but- disturbingly- it’s also beautiful to look at (the shots of a half-built Tower Bridge are breathtaking), seductively atmospheric, empathic and- in places- genuinely exciting. It’s not quite as clever as it thinks it is, not quite as funny, but it’s good: Robert Downey Jr is excellent- an agitated, agitating, neurotic, strung-out Holmes who Conan Doyle would recognise- and Jude Law understated and (remarkably) not remotely annoying. And for that, if for nothing else, we should praise Guy Ritchie.

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