A shadow races down the rain soaked cobblestone streets outpacing galloping horses pulling carriages of gun loading men.
Suddenly, the specter somersaults to a stop.
As he busts into the villain's lair, time freezes and in an instant, this sleuth scrutinizes the guard, analyzes his plan of attack, then immobilizes his foe with deft but brutal force.
The opening scene has just begun, but it is palpably apparent that this rough and tumble of a man is not your typical Sherlock Holmes. Then again what would you expect from Director Guy Ritchie whose film titles include RocknRolla and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
In his commentary, Ritchie admits to be a fan of the literary Holmes, whom he considers to be the first action hero, though an intellectual one.
Ritchie wanted a Sherlock that was as "efficient with his fists as with his noggin." And he found him in Robert Downey Jr., who stylishly concocts this turn of the 19th Century Consulting Detective from equal parts brains and brawl, grit and wit.
And the casting of Jude Law turns on its ear the image of the bumbling Dr. Watson (played so deliciously by Nigel Bruce to the aquiline Basil Rathbone as Holmes in the 1940's series).
Law, (dubbed Hotson), becomes a peer and partner in crime solving. Ritchie imagined the pair as Victorian London's Butch and Sundance.
The story, a mixture of mysticism and murder with a pinch of perilous flirtation (with the beguiling Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler), rolls along at a breakneck pace.
From the first frame, the game's afoot.
The Maximum Movie Mode on this Blu-ray can be engaged to play as a Picture next to Picture arrangement.
For example, as Guy Ritchie is explaining Holmes-a-Vision, we see displayed in the upper left a shot from the movie and in the lower right a still photo of the Phantom digital still camera that can shoot up to 3000 frames per second.
That speed played back at the normal 24fps slows the action and recreates moments in time when Holmes can calculate his next moves to neutralize his opponent. Conferred the title, Holmes-a-Vision, it's like Neo's Bullet Time.
Maximum Movie Mode recruits cast and crew to explain such topics as locations, costuming, English accents and Baritsu, which is a form of martial arts that Holmes practices.
On other Blu-rays, vignettes like these can be uninspired, but the Special Features production team did a good job of weaving them into the flow of the movie.
If I have one quibble, Ritchie would be explaining this or that as the movie is playing in the background and he would finish by saying something like, "I won't interrupt as you watch the rest of this scene and see how it concludes."
And then not more then fifteen seconds later, the Co-Producer or the Production Designer or the Set Decorator or the Location Manager interrupts with his or her voiceover. Luckily, most of the time, what they interjected was interesting.
Definitely, the first time, watch the movie straight through and then turn on the Maximum Movie Mode for the second or third go-around.
Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly, William Houston, Hans Matheson
Length: 90 minutes
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1