Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

Film Review by Dean Duncan Feb 24, 2015

The opening escape from Switzerland is pretty fun. The films are now quite firmly set in the present day. However, these stick figures—especially the actual sticks, and the actual figures—really do evoke the original Conan Doyle stories. Hard working, resourcefully intelligent film technicians are at least something like our striving sleuths, are they not?

One shot has a crazy skull-ridden abacus over there on the margins, which is completely unmotivated, unexplained, and cool. The brief sequence that features the torturing of Dr. Tobel actually rises to a level of gravity and pitiableness. It may be because of the way that the scene is kind of, interestingly overlit. One of Dr. Watson’s big claims about inventing and executing a key detecting device resolves, when he’s challenged, into the admission that he helped pour the paint. His dissembling is not only inept, but it’s actually appealingly childlike. You could, you should protest the H-wood decision to take the rich character of John Watson and turn him into this jack-ass. But decide they did, and they stuck with it, and there are compensations. Of yore, it all made me grumpy. These days, with our kids at hand, I like him!

Back to the plot. They are actually draining Holmes’ blood! The process is indirectly rendered, and nowhere near explicit. It’s barely even enacted. It is quite powerful though. His fading is positively pitiable. There are more neat little touches, easily recollected right after viewing. Still, if you’ll excuse my saying it, the whole is a little bit boring, and pretty perfunctory. Plot can be disposable, but only if craft or atmosphere or the implication of an idea make up for the shortfall.