Guy Ritchie, Surprisingly, Will Adapt Sherlock Holmes
by Kevin Powers
June 4, 2008
Guy Ritchie has certainly proven his ability to bring life to the dark, sexy underworld of British crime - Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Revolver. So it might come as a surprise to many, including me, that Ritchie has signed on to rewrite and direct a "re-imagining" of the detective icon Sherlock Holmes. A modern, updated take on the famous investigator is certainly not without merit. The Holmes character originally appeared in 1887 and has been adapted countless times, but never with sensibilities like Ritchie's. The premise will be taken from an upcoming comic written by Lionel Wigram and promises to be more "adventuresome and less stuffy than previous screen incarnations and mines on more obscure character traits." So is this going to be a richer, morally maligned Holmes?
Ritchie's ability to craft an inventory of colorful opportunists and their eventual collision is simply brilliant. Snatch remains unparalleled. Part of the filmmaker's appeal is the absence of a clear "good guy". Everyone is dirty, so it's great fun watching the characters try to one up another. Since they're all debased, it doesn't really matter who comes out on top. Ritchie's upcoming RocknRolla appears to follow that formula pretty well. So what's with flipping sides and taking on a character that most would consider on the right side of the law? I think the answer is in the idea that Wigram's comic, and therefore Ritchie's adaptation, will highlight the less-than-well-known traits of Holmes.
Such as the character's drug use, specifically cocaine and morphine. Admittedly, I've never been an avid follower of the Sherlock Holmes character -- my closest acquaintance is the frequent retort my mother used growing up, "No shit, Sherlock!" However, apparently Holmes once said to Watson, "I find it [the drugs]… so transcendentally stimulating and clarifying to the mind that its secondary action [whatever damage it might be doing] is a matter of small moment… I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation." Obviously way back when, drugs considered highly illegal today were used for more conventional purposes. And even though Ritchie's adaptation will not be a period piece, I can imagine the director drawing on darker historical nuggets such as this to create a character that aligns more with his tastes. What would a Ritchie flick be without dancing on the line of good and bad?
Interestingly, Ritchie is on a bit of streak nowadays, which is surprising given his last effort Revolver. That film was a cerebral mess, which made me almost loose faith in the director and changed my view of Ray Liotta forever - seeing the guy running around in his underwear, crying with a gun amidst blacklights is just disturbing. Whereas Ritchie's previous films had many years between them, RocknRolla is due out in October of this year (and rumored to be a trilogy), Holmes is intended for 2010, and Ritchie is rumored to take on a Sgt. Rock adaptation eventually as well.
I definitely hope my faith is restored come October, and I can't wait for more details on what Sherlock Holmes might look like through the lens of Ritchie. Are you equally excited or perplexed?