I think it's safe to say that Ritchie is best known for his technique of introducing a subtle, yet important aspect of a scene, then going back after the scene is over and re-tracing the order of events in a way that explains said subtle aspect by shedding light on it. We all remember the flaming man from Lock Stock, right? Well, imagine that technique implemented in a mystery thriller and you have Sherlock Holmes. You think you see one thing, then Ritchie has a way of going back and showing you something so obvious, yet so overlooked, in a way that only a detective as perceptive as Sherlock Holmes would notice. It was truely brilliant the way those two elements came together.
The action sequences were amazing and left you wanting more. Before attacking someone, time would seemingly freeze and Holmes would deduce the best course of action for disposing of his current adversary. Needless to say, he would then go and do it exactly as he planned. It was hilarious.
The story itself could have been a bit more original- and simpler, for that matter. I felt the whole secret society Rosicrucianism thing didn't really fit within the flow of the film. Here you got a guy (Holmes) who is hired to solve a case, and ends up being the only thing standing between us and a new world Rosicrucian order. With a plotline as simple as America being weak after the civil war and having a government as corrupt as England's own, the time was ideal to widen their sphere of influence over the rest of the world. Not ridiculous, as it is now common knowledge about secret societies controlling governments, namely our own, but in 1860 something they'd be about 100 years too late to gain a foothole over America. Not to mention the fact that they'd have a whole Higher Masonic Reich to deal with. I seriously doubt they'd be worried about little ol' Sherlock Holmes.
Despite all of Ritchie's best efforts for realism, however, we never really felt threatened for Holmes' life, or Watson's for that matter- even in the aftermath of an attack that would've taken any oridnary man's life. It was sort of an interesting dynamic- the darkness and realism of Victorian England, coupled with the immortality of a cartoon character as the film's main protagonist. And as much as it pains me to say, that's what the film felt like at times: a cartoon. Not often, but at times.
And what was up with the gay undertones between Holmes and Watson? We all heard Downey's comments on Letterman a few nights back. It looked as if Ritchie tried to give us every reason to believe they were gay, and every reason not to. We're all familiar with the cliche of the two guys who are closer to each other than their girlfriends, (i.e. Corey and Shawn; Joey and Chandler) but this took it to a whole new level. Not that there's anything wrong with that (Jerry Seinfeld).
All in all, Sherlock Holmes is a great watch. Fun and entertaining throughout which, I must say, is an element far too often forgotten in today's cinema. With the exception of maybe Nine, which I haven't seen yet, Sherlock Holmes is the best movie of the winter by far. I'd rather have a slightly cartoony and overdone story than a story that's been recycled ten times and is completely unoriginal (Avatar).