Ian McKellen playing an ageing Sherlock Holmes is the best casting since Ian McKellen as Gandalf, or Ian McKellen as Magneto, or Ian McKellen as that polar bear in that terrible book adaptation…
As you can probably guess, I’m a big fan of Ian McKellen, and I’m sure most people would agree, this is a role seemingly tailor-made for him. I’m happy to report that he doesn’t disappoint, as this is one of the best performances he’s given in a long and distinguished career. Of course, the character and the role he’s been given are largely to thank, but it’s hard to see anybody else playing Sherlock Holmes in his later years quite the way Sir Ian did. It also helps that his supporting cast are excellent, especially Laura Linney, who does a surprisingly convincing English Accent, and Milo Parker, a child actor I haven’t seen in anything before, but was certainly impressed by.
As I’ve already mentioned, this story follows a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes, who returns to his final case, the only one that remains unsolved. There are also a number of sub-plots, including the degenerating health of the protagonist, and his relationship with his housekeeper. All of the plot threads are nicely balanced, and do all contribute to the overall story, some you don’t always get in a film with this many layers. Sherlock Holmes stories, and mystery stories in general always depend very strongly on how intriguing the mystery is, and the pace at which it unfolds. Again, this is something that’s balanced well throughout the film, and Sherlock’s memory loss is the perfect device for slowly revealing information.
I’ve been heaping a lot of praise on this film, and while it is good overall, it’s not without flaws. The second half is a lot slower than the first, and while it’s not a huge part of the film, more often than not the jokes in the film don’t land, which is a shame because Sherlock Holmes as a character naturally lends himself to funny situations. These are only minor nit picks however, and don’t really detract from the overall quality of the film.
Mr. Holmes is an enjoyable watch, and if it looks like the kind of film you would like, you probably will like it. If, however, you have no interest in this kind of story, it might feel a little boring. It is a nice change of pace in the middle of summer, and I have no doubt that it’ll find it’s audience.
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