What to say if you liked it
The sharpest mind in British crime fiction is revived from a slumber to investigate the murders of pretty, young debutantes in London’s high society.
What to say if you didn’t like it
Just as when Buck Rogers was jolted five centuries forward into a crass, superficial society, so a specially written Sherlock Holmes suffers a similar fate where the convoluted clichés of modern drama are heinously tattooed onto Conan Doyle’s perspicacious private eye.
What was good about it?
• Rupert Everett’s interpretation of Holmes was both novel and distinct, although he did often look on the verge of a coma as he was even more pallid than the swirling fog that flooded the streets. The moral ambivalence was also appreciated as Holmes put the lives and sanity of young women in peril in his dogged pursuit of the killer.
• The use of the fog as a physical manifestation of Holmes’ mind as he considered the murders of the society girls. It descended on London on the evening of the first murder and gradually dissipated as Holmes made progress, but became more opaque as each avenue of clues quickly became a cul-de-sac.
• Ian Hart as Dr Watson, fresh from scaring children in The Philosopher’s Stone delivered his customary excellent performance, although we do feel he was a little underwritten often acting as a dumb prop for Holmes’ witticisms or deductions.
• Holmes’s treatment of the blundering Inspector Lestrade, using him as little more than a torch to shed light on the police investigations.
• Trademark Holmes catchphrases such as “elementary, my dear Watson” were slipped seamlessly into the script.
• The interrogation scenes between Holmes and the prime suspect were acute and engaging and seemed more to resemble Crime And Punishment than Sherlock Holmes.
• The slow and deliberate construction of the plot was both well-paced and exciting.
What was bad about it?
• We guessed the killer almost straight away, or at least his accomplice twin brother. Unfortunately, the director employed the giveaway contemporary trick of letting the camera linger on a seemingly incidental background character in scene, immediately bathing them in the glare of suspicion.
• The fog moving very quickly with no discernible wind.
• The forced introduction of a psycho-analyst – the blight of contemporary thrillers – was one modern dramatic device too far, but was largely rescued by Helen McCrory’s consummate performance.
• The glamorous manner in which cigarettes were smoked. When close to non-smokers, acolytes of this filthy habit should be forced to dress in grimy potato sacks dyed red holding signs made of rotting wood emblazoned with the legend “unclean”.
• Watson’s very convincing American accent to deceive a tailor was far too polished for a doctor.
• Holmes being a religious sceptic seemed to be an introduced trait of the detective (although we could be wrong) when you consider his creator was a man who believed in fairies.
• When Imogen was abducted at a funeral, it was obvious she wasn’t going to be the killer’s next victim the moment we found out she was 13 years old, as modern
drama often forbids the gruesome slaughter of children.
• Holmes incognito as a French noble as he attempted to flush out the killer. He looked like one of Inspector Clouseau’s less convincing disguises.
• An unsatisfying denouement. Holmes deduced the killer must have a twin brother accomplice as it was the only option left rather than through a flash of inspiration; Watson extorted the killer’s address through appealing to the sense of guilt felt by his older mistress; Holmes discovered the concealed entrance to the killer’s lair through a lucky trail of blood; and Holmes used a gun to disable the killer’s twin that was as uncharacteristic and alien as Dr Who using weapons.