Published Jul 17, 2015Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey) is a talented director and Ian McKellen is an accomplished actor, but there's not much to like about their new film, Mr. Holmes.
Based on Mitch Cullin's novel A Slight Trick Of The Mind, the film finds a gray-haired Sherlock Holmes (McKellen) settling into old age. With his best days of sleuthing behind him, he spends the majority of his time tending to beehives by his seaside home and conversing with his housekeeper's (Laura Linney) tenacious and intelligent son Roger (Milo Parker, in his second onscreen role).
It's at the young man's insistence that Holmes decides to revisit the last case he could never quite solve — or so he thought. Suffering from dementia, Holmes (and, in turn, the viewer) are unable to decipher the case's overall timeline and validity. As he tries to piece together the narrative, so too does a separate story about a recent trip to Japan in search of a mysterious miracle plant unfold, but it's unlikely you'll care about either.
That's because, in a world whose Sherlock Holmeses run the gamut from sexy and scintillating (Robert Downey Jr.) to intelligent and engrossing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and everything in between (Elementary's rather elementary Jonny Lee Miller), there's not much room for a senior citizen Sherlock Holmes, even though more and more, films (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel series, I'll See You in My Dreams, My Old Lady) seem specially designed to cater to and reflect the interests of a certain crowd that's getting increasingly older (at least in North America).
It's important that such films exist, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be interesting, and Mr. Holmes isn't. (When the discovery of a wasp nest plays an integral part in your film's climax, maybe it's time to erase what's already on the drawing board.) Instead, it's merely a pleasant picture, one that's elevated to a higher level than it probably deserves to be due to an exceptionally strong cast, and will probably make young and old alike yearn for Sherlock's younger, more exciting years.