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March 28, 2009


Coming to a theater near you this November, "Sherlock Holmes". According to the director, Guy Ritchee (the director who brought you the awful marriage of Guy Ritchee and Madonna), forget what you know about Sherlock Holmes; this is an action hero for all times. The perfect melding of force and brute force. Fuck deductive reasoning. Who needs intelligence when you can beat the crap out of your adversaries to get them to talk?

Sherlock fights, Doctor Watson fights, Sherlock's love interest fights. Everyone is fighting. It's like a bad remake of "Hard Times" with Charles Bronson and James Coburn.

I dunno. Maybe it'll be okay. It's got Robert Downey, Jr as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson. They're both good actors. But then I come across this quote from Guy Ritchee: "We're trying to make this film fresh. We should have some good fight sequences."

Wuuuuunderful. Good fight sequences.

Okay, I admit to having read every Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I am a fan of the BBC version of Sherlock Holmes with the late Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke as Dr. Watson. But I am not a purist and I am not a fanatic (it has been about ten years since I last read one of the ACD stories), but what attracted me to the Holmes stories was not the actions of the body but the action of the mind--the ability to piece together information. It is the action of rational thought, not blind fist fury.

Sherlock Holmes was invented at the end of the 19th century and like every transition from one century to the next, the belief in mysticism, ghosts, and the afterlife were rampant. Today, we see it in the form of "the End of Times" and the "Left Behind" book series. Sherlock Holmes was the argument against irrational beliefs (yet, it is is paradoxical that Doyle, himself did believe in being able to communicate with spirits).

This movie trashes the idea of rational thought as a method to understanding truth, and that is what gets me angry.

It is true: I haven't seen the movie. But by the director's own words to describe his movie, it is obvious that he has completely missed the point.

So what is the point of the movie? As far as I can tell: simply to make money by using the name of a famous characters without using the characteristics of the characters. Why not just give the characters new names? Because the story is crap and no one give a damn about a bunch of people fighting at the end of the 19th century.

When Robert Towne wrote the screenplay for "Chinatown" he gave the detective the name Jake Giddes. Even though, Giddes was cut from the same cloth as Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlow. Towne worked in the same genre as Hammett and Chandler without piggybacking their work. That is integrity.

In the end, that appears to be what is missing from this new re-imagined version of Sherlock Holmes: integrity.