Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
|Featuring||Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law (Dr. John Watson), Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler), Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood), Eddie Marsan (Inspector Lestrade), Robert Maillet (Dredger), Geraldine James (Mrs. Hudson), Kelly Reilly (Mary Morstan), William Houston (Constable Clark), See all »|
|Producer||Lin Pictures, Silver Pictures, Translux, Village Roadshow Pictures, Wigram Productions, Bruce Berman, Steve Clark-Hall, Susan Downey, Peter Eskelsen, Dana Goldberg, Dan Lin, Joel Silver, Michael Tadross, Lionel Wigram|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Nothing escapes him”
Also see, the sequel: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
The film opens near the end of a case of Sherlock Holmes and Watson. During their infiltration of the villain’s hideout we see Holmes mentally planning an attack from start to finish and when it takes place exactly as described we marvel, and not for the last time, at the incredible intellect of Detective Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes, ably played by Robert Downey Jr., arrives in time to stop a human sacrifice by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who is then thrown into prison to await his execution. His last request is to speak to Holmes whom Blackwood then taunts with promises of more murders which he says Holmes will be wholly unable to stop.
Blackwood’s threat seems hollow, as he soon meets the hangman’s noose, and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) pronounces him dead. But death proves no obstacle to Blackwood, as he later seemingly resurrects to continue murdering, while plotting the fall and rise of England and perhaps the world.
Director Guy Ritchie may have chosen to make a Sherlock Holmes that is more rugged and physical than fans of the original are used to seeing, but there are numerous similarities, and, at times, the film even pays homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary Sherlock Holmes. Watson has been redefined in Jude Law, but characters such as Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) and femme fetal Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) are exactly as one would expect.
Robert Downey Jr. presents a new Holmes for a new time, yet keeps faithful to many of Sherlock’s idiosyncrasies—his intellectual prowess at making “grand assumptions out of little details” that invariably are correct, his grand ego at showing up the police while simultaneously refusing the fame by electing not to take credit, his concealing of evidence from the police because it is morally justifiable to do so, his unemotional exterior which gives way briefly when he believes Watson to be in a grave condition, his single-minded, all-consuming focus on a case followed by a lethargy that goes on for days, if not longer, when no “game is afoot,” and even his shooting the initials “VR,” Victoria Regina or Queen Victoria, as target practice during one of those lulls are all captured in Ritchie’s version.
The evil behind the violence is palpable in this film, even when not explicit. Lord Blackwood clearly practices witchcraft involving human sacrifice, which was thankfully interrupted. Possession was implied during this scene. He lives up to his promise to continue murdering after his death, including the boiling alive of one and the setting on fire of another. A corpse is seen with maggots already at work, and there is also the hanging of Lord Blackwood to consider.
Most disturbing was the satanic ritual enacted by Blackwood and unnecessarily reenacted later by Holmes in order to gain insight into his thinking and plans. This is inconsistent with the Holmes portrayed earlier, who could envision a whole string of events, as in his boxing bout, and its exact outcome before it occurs. This is but one of the holes in the script.
The Lord’s name is said on a few occasions and in a pleading sense as in “for God’s sake…” or as an expletive “Good God!” There are blatant scenes and quotes that can be considered blasphemous, as when Holmes sees the open grave of his supposedly resurrected opponent and remarks “And on the third day…,” which is a clear reference to the resurrection of the Son of God, or drawn on a wall along with other occult symbols are the initials “INRI,” which refers to the sign placed above the cross of Jesus by the Romans. Blackwood mentions the name of the “beast,” shortly before his execution, and based on the change in his countenance, I would suspect he has also been possessed to some degree.
The sexual innuendos were kept to a minimum, and the scene shown in the film’s trailers of an apparently semi-nude Holmes tied to a bed post is uncomfortably embarrassing, but not explicit and not related to any sexual romp; he was drugged and left tied up.
The concept of resurrection outside the coming of our Lord Jesus is a recurrent theme in many movies but the Word of God clearly explains to us that “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Holmes does not believe in magic, and I should note Blackwood’s resurrection is satisfactorily explained later.
As believers we know that Lord Blackwood will come to a poor end, even if it were not shown in the film. “No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5), and in Romans 2:8 we are promised, “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
Since the fall (Genesis 3), Satan has used every angle to capture the hearts and minds of man away from God and usurp God’s position, from lying about God’s intentions to offering to help us find the divinity and power within ourselves. But we are clearly warned by God to stay away from occult practices. “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:10).
Sherlock Holmes was by all accounts a patriot and a seeker of justice, which are admirable qualities that carry with them a promise. As Jesus tells us, “Blessed are those who thirst for righteousness for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
This is not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes, rather it is aimed at a teen and adult audience and lives up to its PG-13 rating. Younger children should not be taken to this movie, and if you bring your teens some discussion on the darker aspects and consequences of such rebellion to God is justified. “…Holmes” is a crowd pleasing film that should appeal to both those familiar and unfamiliar with the literary character. As noted, there are some inconsistencies and holes in the plot, purposefully confusing at times, but if you can stomach Blackwood and his partners’ heinous nature, then you should be able to enjoy this film.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor