Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

Robert Downey Jr.
Rachel McAdams
Jude Law
Mark Strong
Eddie Marsan
Kelly Reilly.
Guy Ritchie.
Michael Robert Johnson
Anthony Peckham
Simon Kinberg.
Running Time
128 minutes

Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Great Museum, The
3 Star Empire Rating
3 Star Empire Rating
Face Of Love, The
3 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Sherlock Holmes
Elementary, my dear Robert Downey Jr.

submit to reddit

Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr) and his loyal partner in crime-busting, Dr Watson (Law), find themselves up against the sinister Lord Blackwood (Strong) and his evil, apparently supernatural, plans. It's a situation complicated by the arrival of Holmes' ex-amour, the untrustworthy and dangerous Irene Adler (McAdams)...

Sherlock Holmes
Browse more images »
So, nobody knows anything. And nobody could have predicted that the star dominating the new century’s blockbuster entertainment would be Robert Downey Jr. His name was once a byword for squandered ability. Now, it means action, laughs, capers, fun. The details of his comeback have been long-detailed, and Jon Favreau deserves the credit for seeing this mercurial talent could be harnessed in a wham-bam family tentpole even as he approached middle age. But still, it’s quite another leap to imagine the rat-tat-tat, verbally diarrhoetic New Yorker as Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic deducer. Kudos too, then, to Guy Ritchie, who imagined him in the (metaphorical) Deerstalker – it proves an idea as ingenious as one England’s greatest detective may well himself have cooked up. To see him as Sherlock Holmes now feels natural, inevitable... Elementary, even.

And what have Ritchie and Downey Jr, these unlikely compadres, set in motion? Well, for all their talk pre-release of Butch and Sundance and Raiders, the more accurate summation is that the movie Sherlock Holmes most immediately echoes is Bryan Singer's first foray into the world of the X-Men.

There is, undoubtedly, much to love in the Redford/Newman dynamic so lovingly, endearingly aped by Downey Jr and Law as Holmes and Watson respectively. Their incessant bickering, their clear love for one another, their escapades with various ladyfolk (who sometimes appear to exist to make it clear to the Middle-American masses that they’re not, y’know, gay or anything) and the numerous scrapes and scuffles they seem inherently predisposed to… It’s a relationship that’s both massively entertaining and convincing, and even survives the occasional bits featuring a farty comedy dog.

The action, meanwhile, though not on a par with the escapades of Indy, largely delivers, from a immediate, Raiders-style pre-credits chase in which our heroes first meet their dastardly nemesis Lord Blackwood, through Holmes’ bare-chested sparring in the local fleapits (the most typically Ritchie element of the movie) and to a climactic second-act showdown on the docks, all slo-mo explosions and high drama.

Ultimately, though, as with Singer's reintroduction of a new generation of long-established characters, this first visit to Baker Street is more successful as a set-up to its sequels than an entirely satisfying story on its own terms. Just as Singer, freed from his origin-story constraints, really flew in X-Men 2, so too should Ritchie come Sherlock's return – delivering on the tantalising promise of a Holmes vs Moriarty face-off hinted at here almost to the point of pricktease and, crucially, taking his heroes on a more globetrotting mission.

Thankfully, frustrating though it sometimes is to never leave it (oh for a colourful waterfall face-off!), Ritchie’s period London is a sexy, murky and mucky variation on the capital he’s always called home. Desaturated and seductive, it’s a brilliantly realised environment rich with possibility and loaded with landmarks for our heroes to lark about on, right up to a terrific climax on a half-built Tower Bridge.

The support cast have mixed results. Mark Strong is as reliably redoubtable as ever as the evil Lord Blackwood and the always brilliant Eddie Marsan is a great target for gags as a bumbling copper. A very game Rachel McAdams, though, as the duplicitous but charming Irene Adler, is fatally edited down to the point that not only does all the prancing about in her pants of the trailer not make the final cut, but her backstory, this mysterious previous relationship with Holmes that could have provided such intrigue and allure, is merely hinted at, discarded presumably in the pursuit of a running time not up there with The Return Of The King. The Director’s Cut.

Given the smarts of its eponymous hero, not to mention the usual breakneck pacing of its director, it’s ironic how plodding the plot can sometimes feel. When he’s directing something he’s written, Ritchie can sometimes go too far the other way, juggling so many subplots it’s hard to keep up. Here, however, the narrative is simply too simplistic, a story that will hardly need much in the way of detective skills to figure out.

Still, the real relationship here is between Holmes and Watson, and it’s here this Sherlock really finds its home: as a lightweight, capricious buddy picture. Each new Jude Law movie may appear to be an excuse for the tabloids to give him a kicking, but this time it’s him dishing out the beating. A very smart choice for him, playing second fiddle as opposed to main event, Sherlock gives you the chance to again appreciate his real screen skills. He delivers charm, vim and matinee idol verve, making for a more muscular Watson than previous incarnations and providing a welcome straight-man and plain speaker when Holmes’ eccentricities occasionally become too much. Here’s looking forward to seeing him and Downey Jr embark on a more exotic adventure next time out.

A fun, action-packed reintroduction to Conan Doyle's classic characters. Part Two should provide more in the way of scope.

Reviewed by William Thomas

Related Reviews
Sherlock Holmes

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sherlock Holmes
Empire Star Rating

Entertaining, fun and slick...

Action, comedy and story all seem to be taken up to a 7 outta 10, but that's not say that the film doesn't hold it's own unique charm and neat pacing. Robert Downey Jr, is a joy to watch, supported by a fine accompanying cast. Sherlock Holmes prides itself on it;s detailed unique appearance, which is well complemented by great cinematography. All in all, nice neat fun! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by IJustWantToBeAHero at 00:44, 25 May 2010 | Report This Post

Bag of Shite

Downey Jnr spit out all his dialogue in unintelligible, rapid-fire bursts. Jude Law came out best..but come in Mr Jnr your time is up ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris wootton at 17:10, 24 May 2010 | Report This Post

Sherlock Holmes

clearly Robert Downey Jr. was cast as the leading role because of the way he can bring a character to life and make them not only fun but enjoyable to watch. He did it with Tony Stark and now he did it with Sherlock Holmes. Very much enjoyed this film and would recommend it. Good entertaining film, four out of five ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mymatebone at 16:02, 08 May 2010 | Report This Post

This movie stunk like rotten meat

I tried to watch this movie, but could only get halfway through it before I hit 'eject' and took it back to the Redbox machine. Thank goodness I only wasted $1 renting it. Graphics and audio were good, but the storyline was just too dang stupid and overblown to bear. Inane, senseless action was thrown in to try and save it. Awful, awful, awful....... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mojo88 at 16:26, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post

Whut up Holmes

Man, there was nothing else playing I wanted to see that I hadn't already seen. I knew there must have been a reason I didn't rush to see this when it first came out. I walked out half way through and I haven't done that since The Invasion. It felt cool walking out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SpiderBat at 23:15, 18 April 2010 | Report This Post

Whut up Holmes

Man, there was nothing else playing I wanted to see that I hadn't already seen. I knew there must have been a reason I didn't rush to see this when it first came out. I walked out half way through and I haven't done that since The Invasion. It felt cool walking out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SpiderBat at 23:15, 18 April 2010 | Report This Post

Very, very enjoyable mystery adventure

Everything about Sherlock Holmes screams fun, fun, and even more fun as the acting, directing and writing of the film are all honed to perfection so that you will be left grinning at the end of the film. Downey Jr and Law are quite simply perfect as the two Victorian icons, and are probably the highlights of the film. The writing leaves its characters time to breathe so that the viewer actually feels comfortable with them, while infusing the otherwise talky scenes with some great action pieces w... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 09:55, 09 April 2010 | Report This Post

Redundant Mind Working

I enjoyed this film very much for the simple reason that, so far as I'm concerned, Robert Downey Jr. can do no wrong. His accent is impeccable, his wit and intelligence on full display. The device Guy Ritchie sets up in the beginning that is supposed to take us into the inner workings of Holmes ‘mind is interesting the first time we see it. But he uses it again, and again. Unfortunately, this becomes tedious, and boring, as if it was the one trick Ritchie could come up with and nothing els... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sarahmills at 17:01, 31 March 2010 | Report This Post

Empire's Rating

Why did Empire rate this as 3 stars when in their new magazine, they have rated it 4 Stars on DVD? I think Sherlock deserves a 4 star review as RDJ is superb in it! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nicola Brierley at 13:54, 23 March 2010 | Report This Post

Sherlock the Action Hero

Be forewarned: this film has little to do with the stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle one hundred years ago and more. Holmes here is more of an action hero than a master of deduction. I enjoyed the film for the high-speed action romp it is. If you like action movies you will probably like this one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by losthorizon at 16:51, 20 March 2010 | Report This Post


 i was excited about going to see sherlock holmes because i love mystery storys,im very glad that the director stayed true to the right time period,and that the story was not moderized too much.the acting was great and robert downy jr. added a great sense of scarism to his charater,the story line was also quite beliveable. i am definitly buying this movie when it comes out on dvd. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hpmoviefan777 at 18:21, 22 February 2010 | Report This Post


that stuff on tower bridge was circa 1976! but downey was top notch, and the scenes filmed at CHATHAM DOCKS were, in anyones language, 1st rate! GOOD START. 7/10 ... More

Posted by empire No. 1 at 01:32, 22 February 2010 | Report This Post


IT WAS EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!! seriously this is an incredible movie and good enough to watch a second time (perhaps a third) I am definatly gettin this on DVD!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 00283466 at 01:39, 20 February 2010 | Report This Post


Good fun all round if a tad overlong. Just a shame the film was basically mapped out in the trailers leaving few surprises. 4 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 10:25, 13 February 2010 | Report This Post

As afilm about an unknown bumbling detective this just about passes muster, with fantastic production design and a great Victorian/Gothic feel. But as a film about Sherlock Holmes its a complete disaster. Jude Law is suprisingly good, Rachael McAdams is wasted and Mark Strong makes a good cartoon villain. The real letdown is Downey Jr, who seems to be trying to emulate Johnny Depp in the Pirates franchise, and comes across as just plain annoying. Holmes purists should steer well clear ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by duncan1964 at 09:35, 10 February 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Disappointing.

I think this film deserved more than three stars, in my opinion. I would say 4.5, even 5/5. It equals Star Trek on the title of most fun film that came out last year and is loaded with wit and subtle comedy which perfectly compliments the storytelling and fantastic performances. A massive strength, which a lot of people have recognised, is the extremely genuine due of Jude Law and Robert Downey Junior who both perform excellently, especially when both on screen. ... More

Posted by joethill at 20:51, 09 February 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Disappointing.

This is a pretty good description, I agree. Although I found the movie 'ok', it could have been better. Check out my brief personal review at... quote]ORIGINAL: UTB I found it a fun but ultimately empty film. I've never read any Holmes nor been a fan of the shows so I'm not going to comment on how authentic to previous incarnations it was. The big suprise for me was how unegaging Downey Jr was, and how very engaging Jude Law was. H... More

Posted by Celluloid Seduction at 20:05, 09 February 2010 | Report This Post

Sylish, authentic and fun

The film held my attention from start to finish. Great acting, music, action and so I'm told - true to its roots. Ok so they've sexed it up a bit - but it still feels authentic as the world and the characters are so well realized. It was actually better than I thought it would be - and I thought it would be pretty cool. Not a fan of guy ritchies other films - but this one's awesome. I don't agree with the reviewer when he says the plot is too simple. I actually found it just right - not too comp... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Smootle at 23:46, 08 February 2010 | Report This Post

Simply cool but not great. Funny dialogues, very good direction and great performances of RDJ and Jude Law. 7/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 23:41, 08 February 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Disappointing.

I found it a fun but ultimately empty film. I've never read any Holmes nor been a fan of the shows so I'm not going to comment on how authentic to previous incarnations it was. The big suprise for me was how unegaging Downey Jr was, and how very engaging Jude Law was. He stole the show as Watson and was by far the most entertaining thing about the film. Downey's accent was flawless, but it also made him a very flat character, and by the end of it I was quite bored. Not bad,... More

Posted by UTB at 13:33, 01 February 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Sherlock Holmes

Fun from start to finish, despite some storytelling hiccups. Ritchie's knack for hilarious and clever action scenes and great dialogue is present. Great performances throughout, but special credit must be given to Rachel McAdams for a sparkling, enticing turn as Holmes' squeeze. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bozo at 17:43, 26 January 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Sherlock Holmes

Anyway: I saw Sherlock Holmes on the 10th January 2010 and to be honest from the trailer it looked quite good so I told my friends that I wanted to see that and they were like "alright" This film has everything for a good movie and I mean EVERYTHING! A romance A murder mystery A villain Action For girls even Robert Downey Jr. shows off his abs at one time I am only giving it four though because I didn't like how it goes off with Sherlock looking at every single l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tomtheworldof at 07:41, 24 January 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Very Entertaining

well its been reported in the press that number #2 is on the way, because the first film did "good business" at the Box Office (its not even reached the lucrative aftermarket DVD and Blu-Ray yet..) ... More

Posted by hampstead bandit at 19:34, 18 January 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Very Entertaining

Apart from occasionally finding Downey's accent impossible to decipher and the editing a little too slick for it's own good, I'd probably watch the inevitable sequel. Ritchie has a surprising knack for comedic fight scenes.   ... More

Posted by hatebox at 18:11, 18 January 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Sherlock Holmes

Entertaining and clever - but a bit too long; felt a bit dragged out in places. Also, RDJ spoke far too quickly in some places - so much so that I had no idea what he said. Still, interesting, and I'd see the sequel. 7/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Paul2j at 08:45, 17 January 2010 | Report This Post

Previous pageMore user comments


Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you

Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Review Of 2014: Empire's Interviews Of The Year
Crews! Chan! Chickens?! The chats we loved in 2014...

Gallery: Peter Jackson Prop Art: The Bigiatures
An exclusive look inside the director's secret warehouse

Review Of 2014: The Best TV Moments Of The Year
We celebrate the small screen's biggest scenes

A Day In The Life Of An Orc
Three of Mordor's finest describe life in the Dark Lord’s employ

20 Great Films You (Probably) Didn't See In 2014
The underseen joys and unreleased gems of the last 12 months

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)