While the third opus is still waiting, TF1 Séries Films rebroadcast the first “Sherlock Holmes” signed Guy Ritchie. Back to this feature film which modernized the hero while remaining faithful to his essence.
The story of this Sherlock Holmes begins, not with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but … a comic book. The one written by Lionel Wigram, who undertook a dusting of the hero born in 1887. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s normal: the result has never been published. But it caught the eye of the producers of Warner who bought the rights in March 2007. Among them are in particular Joel Silver, the man behind Lethal Weapon or The Matrix, as well as Susan Downey, who is not other than the wife of Robert Downey Jr. At the time, the actor is not yet the superstar and the spearhead of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his choice to play Tony Stark in Iron Man is more news second chance for those who have too often let their own demons get in the way of their career.
The producers nevertheless think of him for the role of the consultant detective, in this film first entrusted to Neil Marshall (The Descent) then Guy Ritchie. After a thunderous debut thanks to Scams, Crimes and Botany then Snatch, the latter is at the bottom of the wave following the failures of the well-named Drifting (with Madonna, his companion at the time) and the nebulous Revolver. As he prepares to raise his head with the energetic RockNRolla, the British filmmaker agrees to get out of his comfort zone and leave the gangsters aside to go back in time with this Sherlock Holmes, of which he officially becomes the director in June 2008. A month later, it is a Robert Downey Jr. in full light since the release of Iron Man who joins him for good (and without too much surprise), followed by Jude Law. If Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell were approached, it was he who landed the role of Doctor Watson in September.
Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan and Kelly Reilly join the duo, and charismatic Mark Strong reunites with his Revolver and RockNRolla director to play villainous Lord Blackwood. And if the Columbia tries to counter-attack with a crime comedy project carried by Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell in front of the camera of Judd Apatow (which will be released ten years later under the title Holmes & Watson), that’s fine. Guy Ritchie who emerges the first with a shooting which begins on October 3, 2008 at Saint-Paul’s Cathedral in London. Spread between Great Britain and the United States, the shots last three months and go off without a hitch, if we except this shot by Robert Maillet from the top of his 2m16 and which knocked Robert Downey Jr. KO during a fight scene. Or this rumor started by the tabloid The Sun (and immediately denied), according to which the production would have asked the director to review his copy.
Dynamic, full of mystery and gloomy, despite a few hints of humor, the first images unveiled in May 2009 make a good impression and set the tone. Sherlock Holmes appears unshaven and more focused on hand-to-hand combat than on hygiene, if we are to believe the reproaches made by John Watson. This is, of course, only a trailer, but the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law already seems palpable, as the operation of dusting the hero created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle foreshadows a effective show. Released on December 25 in US theaters, the feature fails to compete with the Avatar steamroller, en route to global box office heights. But his $ 62.3 million collected in three days gives him a comfortable second place and repays a good part of the 90 million greenbacks of his budget.
HOLMES SWEET HOLMES
The feature film ends its worldwide run with 524 million dollars of money (and 2,143,123 spectators attracted to French theaters) and the feeling of duty accomplished. On the public and critical front, with a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for Robert Downey Jr. up for grabs. The opinions are certainly not rave, and we highlight in particular a story that relies on its form to hide a few holes in the scenario, or the fact that the investigation could technically have been resolved in about fifteen minutes seen as the hero seemed quickly understood the ins and outs of the case. But this new youth offered to Sherlock Holmes pleases. For his first foray into the blockbuster, Guy Ritchie managed to keep this style that had allowed him to refresh the image of English gangsters, and he will continue to do so afterwards, with American and Russian spies, or even King Arthur.
Absent from the screens since the release of the Elementary parody, my dear … Lock Holmes in 1988, Sherlock Holmes entered a 21st century where superheroes do not yet rule the law, but where the influence of The Dark Knight is is greatly felt through the dark atmosphere and the atmosphere of dread of the end of the world that reigns over this story with fantastic contours but pragmatic resolution. In front of Guy Ritchie’s camera, the consultant detective and his sidekick have a buddy movie dynamic which is based largely on the opposition and then the complementarity of their respective characters, and the feature film only accentuates, with more humor, which was reflected in the novels. The spectators very stuck on the classic imagery of the hero undoubtedly made a face in front of this scruffy, leaping and adept version of the martial arts of the character, even if the pipe and the violin are part of the game.
Dusting off a character by soiling his clothes is indeed daring, and the modernity of the feature film notably depends on the way in which the director uses the action to reflect the intelligence of Sherlock which he considers as much a blessing as a blessing. a curse, in an interview given to USA Today before filming. The filmmaker relies as much on the words (and the machine gun delivery of Robert Downey Jr.) as on the images with large reinforcements of flashes, which allow us to see again a scene from another angle or to have a glimpse of the near future . This is the case in combat sequences where the hero tells us what he is going to do as the frame rate varies, before things turn out exactly as he predicted, with more speed and speed. formidable efficiency. In these moments, the film is reminiscent of the style of Zack Snyder’s 300, although it was obviously not a question of drawing too much inspiration from it.
“I loved 300, but I find that now a lot of films take up this commitment to modernize everything”, explains Robert Downey Jr. to First in October 2008. “With Holmes who just won’t be, you can see how modern the original was. For 1891, it was incredibly modern.” And that’s true. Because the feature film is revealed to be faithful to the character as described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with this bohemian allure, far from the image of a gentleman with which he is most often associated and which comes from Basil Rathbone, his incarnation on the screen from the early 1930s, as Lionel Wigram recalled during the promotion. Even the martial arts, which is attributed to the lead actor, were on paper. And more precisely in the new “The empty house”, published in 1901 and in which his mastery of bartitsu, a Japanese wrestling method, is evoked.
If the form has been dusted off somewhat to be more in tune with 21st century entertainment, or Robert Downey Jr.’s personality tends to blend with that of the character (as with his versions of Tony Stark or Doctor Dolittle), this Sherlock Holmes nevertheless retains the essence of the hero and reminds us to what extent his modernity makes him soluble in all eras. A few months after the release of the feature film, the formidable series carried by Benedict Cumberbatch will remind us of this by revisiting the intrigues of Conan Doyle in current London, and will offer us a complementary approach to that of Guy Ritchie. The latter returns two years later with the same cast, joined by Jared Harris in the guise of Professor Moriarty (teased in the first opus) or even Noomi Rapace.
More spectacular and spirited, this sequel titled Game of Shadows offers a greater challenge to the hero, while strengthening his relationship with Watson. The box office having been slightly higher than that of the first (543.8 million dollars of receipts in the world), the two men should normally re-team for a third episode, which does not cease to be made awaiting. The project was already in the works when we met Robert Downey Jr. in 2013, when Iron Man 3 was being promoted, and it seemed to have gone ahead again in 2019, when Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher had it. picked up the orders. The release was then scheduled for Christmas 2021, but something tells us that we will still have to wait a little longer.
Have you noticed the hidden details of “Sherlock Holmes”?