Imagine that Sherlock Holmes was not only real, but that he quit being a detective. Why would he do that? Sherlock Holmes is one of the craftiest, egotistical and ingenious characters of all times, who above all else wants to solve crime.
But what if Sherlock realized that solving crime has repercussions? In most adaptations, Sherlock is a man driven by logic and devoid of empathy for other human beings. He thinks more like a computer, setting his emotions aside because they can’t make solving the crime any easier.
“Mr. Holmes” takes that side of the most famous private detective of all time, and shows how it would reflect in an aging Sherlock Holmes. That over the years, he has come to realize that without human connection and understanding, he has grown to be a man with many regrets in life. While he has solved countless crimes, what he should have done is save the people effected by these crimes.
Ian McKellen plays Sherlock Holmes, who hasn’t been in the detective business for thirty years, yet cannot remember his last case, the one that caused him to go into self-imposed exile. He now spends his time at a house on the English coast, collecting royal jelly from bees and writing the tale of his final mystery. Holmes had read Dr. Watson’s book about this case, as well as a movie adaptation of it, and found both lacking in finality. He intends to right this wrong and prove to the world that Sherlock Holmes is human after all.
McKellen does a wonderful job at playing both a young and decrepit Holmes, and gives us a look at the character that is rarely seen, one of him being at his most vulnerable. We watch as all the years of chasing criminals and clashing with mortal enemies has amounted to memories he cannot recall, and more people hurt by his actions than anything else. All because he never knew when to keep his mouth shut.
Overall, “Mr. Holmes” is a tragedy about Sherlock looking back on his life, and realizing that he was a terrible human being. That he sacrificed his humanity to be one of the most intellectual creatures of his time. And in the end, he would take it all back if he could.
Final Grade: B+