If you can get over the idea of Sherlock Holmes as an action hero -- and if, indeed, you want to -- then there is something to enjoy about this flagrant makeover of fiction's first modern detective into a man of brawn as much as brain. To say that this is not grandpapa's Sherlock Holmes will be either irrelevant or a plus for most of the intended audience, who know the iconic Victorian/Edwardian-era sleuth by reputation if at all. A good number of Robert Downey Jr.'s "Iron Man" fans will likely follow him here, as he turns the venerable deerstalker-capped and becaped figure into a gym-toned, half-deranged Holmes unlike any seen before. Worldwide prospects look potent.
Memorably played 14 times by Basil Rathbone through the '40s, Holmes has been seen only intermittently onscreen since then, notably in Billy Wilder's inspired but tragically truncated 1970 "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," as well as in "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" in 1976 and "Young Sherlock Holmes" in 1985; on British television, played by Jeremy Brett; and in an animated series, voiced by Peter O'Toole.
Theoretically, Arthur Conan Doyle's genius of Baker Street is as open to reinvention and reinterpretation as any character, so there is a measure of amusement to be had in observing the contortions producer Joel Silver, director Guy Ritchie and screenwriters Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham ("Invictus") and Simon Kinberg ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith") have gone through to refit the character to the presumed requirements of the mass international audience.
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