Fan Gets Schooled the SHERLOCK Way

Guy Ritchie's revisionist take on SHERLOCK HOLMES is out on Blu-ray and DVD today, and it got me thinking about Robert Downey Jr.'s rather remarkable reinvention as an action hero.

I mean how many of us would have ever guessed that the guy who played a teen tool in WEIRD SCIENCE and the "poster boy for birth control" in BACK TO SCHOOL would 25 years later be fighting super villains in the IRON MAN movies or reinventing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stuffy world famous detective into a ripped, warehouse brawler?

Not I, I'll admit.

But Downey's done it and done it convincingly, which is nothing short of a Hollywood miracle when you think about it. How many talented artists in Tinseltown have burned out from their addictions, either from a sad, but not unexpected death or an unsalvagable reputation that tanked their career? Too many to count. Yet Downey's become one of those rare Phoenix stories with a talent so strong that it actually helped him conquer his drug demons and then put him back at the top of his game. It's nothing short of shocking.

Watching SHERLOCK HOLMES, regardless of its flaws (which it certainly has), it's clear from the opening frames that it gives Downey Jr. a interesting period costume forum to strut his very entertaining stuff. For fans of the master sleuth of the books or even Basil Rathbone's take on the character in the '40s, this SHERLOCK HOLMES is like a cold splash of water to the face. Ritchie's opening trademark camera tricks and slow-mo techniques feature a Holmes that happily uses his carefully considered fists to solve problems which quickly obliterates one's lifelong preconceptions of how this detective should operate in the field.

It could have been a disaster if cast with a traditional action star, but Downey's quirkiness paired with Jude Law's hardly wishy-washy Dr. Watson make it work. They have the kind of brotherly/bromance rapport that infuses weight and history to their scenes and makes their relationship believable. It's what carries the film past the eye-rolling, overly contemporary action sequences or the unnecessary big visual effects set pieces like the climax on the construction site of the London Bridge. The film really shines when it's just on the strength of Downey and Law's performances and their shared energy of the rush of solving the crime that's afoot.

They make it look easy, unlike super fan Randy who gets a chance to be participate in a stunt scene that Downey pulls off in the film. The coordinators work the gangly kid through his paces in this clip and let's just say Robert's in no chance of being replaced for the eventual sequel:

Otherwise, if you are looking for more about the Holmes legacy in paper and elsewhere, the stunts, the mystery at the heart of the film, and a whole lot more - the Blu-ray has a litany of features covering it all.

But bringing it back to Downey Jr., what say you?

Did you expect for him to have such longevity despite his very public downs? What's your favorite role and is there anything this guy can't do?

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