Here’s how I would have done the movie: call it The Detective or The Police Inspector or something like that and have the story center around a retired detective or police inspector instead of Sherlock Holmes. There’s already so many Sherlock Holmes movies and this one doesn’t even use the whole Sherlock Holmes thing. But the movie as it is, is fun, sweet, and offers up a great performance by its Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, and Milo Parker. The screenplay is also strong and sweet, and the direction embraces the film’s gentleness.
Ian McKellen is lovely as the elderly Sherlock Holmes and puts in a perfect sense of maturity. McKellen who has previously proved his strength is big-budget films, gets to prove his nuanced dramatic chops in this film. And while there have been a lot of great Sherlock Holmes in film history, this one offers a very interesting sense of sensitivity. As his house wife, is Laura Linney, who despite her concise dislikeability, compliments McKellen. Linney also does well individually with an interesting and enthralling performance. Though, Linney is probably the weakest of the three leading actors as her performance is a little wooden and uncharismatic. Milo Parker also features in the film as the young son of Linney and the ‘apprentice-of-sorts’ of Holmes. Parker is one of the few examples of a child actor adding positively to a movie rather than dragging it down. Parker however works best when he’s onscreen with McKellen.
The movie looks fine and sounds fine, but the best part of the film is the screenplay which is sweet, tender, and well-paced. The screenplay truly gives its three leads interesting and compelling traits and interesting dynamics between them. The main plot of the film revolves around Holmes trying to remember a case he once had and never solved and how the elderly and retired Holmes befriends Parker’s character. The mystery aspect is fairly uncompelling and grey, but the evolving relation he has with Parker is very interesting and fun to watch is really the plotline that keeps the film watchable. What the movie lacks however is any relation to its source material as this film could truly be a non-Holmes film and be equally good if not better. Because the movie doesn’t rely on its source material or even incorporate it significantly it seems useless and pointless to call it a Sherlock Holmes film, and that’s really this film’s biggest problem.
The movie is a decent film that you could watch on a planeride and be pretty entertained for its entire runtime. The movie however seems to market itself incorrectly and half of the film (the mystery aspect) falls short of expectations. The film however features a great performance by Ian McKellen and a great performance by child actor, Milo Parker.
Best Aspect- McKellen
Worst Aspect- Marketing itself as a Sherlock Holmes film