Side Effects is the twisty story of Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), a depressive young woman whose wealthy husband (Channing Tatum) has been in prison for insider trading. Upon his release, Emily begins to flounder.
The hard truth, impossible to dodge, is that this is not Tolstoy’s world. It is more like Hugo Cabret’s world, and from time to time it even flirts perilously with becoming Baz Luhrmann’s world. Tom Stoppard’s script, though consistently bright and entertaining, abridges the story painfully to fit the stylish construct.
In Rise of the Guardians, we discover that not only are Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny real, they also comprise an ancient league chosen to protect mankind’s children. The Guardians, as they are called, are made up of some of the most beloved characters from our childhood who, as we grow older, become less and less real.
Sherlock Holmes as a strict Victorian period piece is over and done with, but the character still has potential in a new context. The only rule is not to stray from the unique faculties that make Sherlock such a distinctive and popular hero. If the story’s focus ceases to be the detective’s brilliant deductive logic, then the magic is lost and the character wasted. If, however, due attention and respect are paid to this detail, the rest is free and open to broader interpretation.
The only way it could be more topical is if there was a subplot about Sandra Bullock’s marital difficulties, and to its credit Repo Men is extremely dedicated to this high concept that lampoons and condemns the American health care industry in equal measure. The resulting ratio of ambition to entertainment value is, alas, less than equal, resulting in an uneven but ultimately entertaining film that somehow never quite lives up its full potential.
Ritchie, whose previous films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch are cult favorites, brings a violent and adventuresome sensibility to the often sedate Holmes. Conan Doyle’s legend left behind a mental image, compounded by pop culture, of a rather mellow English gentleman in a deerstalker hat, puffing on a pipe and wandering about a crime scene with avidly shining eyes. Ritchie’s version of Holmes, played impeccably by Robert Downey, Jr., is these things but also much more: a bare-knuckle boxer, a martial artist, a loyal friend, and an occasional lover of women.