Christian Living


Sherlock Holmes: Movie Review

Star Rating

Movie Info


Older children to adults


PG-13 for thematic material including violence, disturbing images and a scene of suggestive material.


Mystery/Detective Thriller and Action Adventure


December 25, 2009


Robert Downey, Jr., Rachel McAdams, Jude Law, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly


Guy Ritchie


Warner Bros. Pictures/Time Warner



CBN is not endorsing the films or TV shows CBN.com reviews. Our goal is to provide information about the latest in entertainment, both the good and the bad, so you may make an informed decision as to what is appropriate for you and your families.

Along with Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Santa Clause, Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognized fictional characters in the world. According to one calculation, there are about 25,000 productions and products featuring Sherlock Holmes, including about 200 movies. And, that doesn’t even include programs such as the TV medical mysteries show House, which is loosely based on the Holmes character.

Some say the best portrayals of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective hero were done by Basil Rathbone in a series of movies made during the Golden Age of Hollywood and Jeremy Brett of the famous BBC and PBS TV adaptations of Doyle’s stories and novels. Be that as it may, other popular incarnations in cinema include A Study in Terror with John Neville, Murder by Decree with Christopher Plummer and James Mason, The 7% Solution with Nicol Williamson, Robert Duvall, and Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud, and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Stephens.

The new Sherlock Holmes, starring the talented Robert Downey, Jr., in the title role, may not become one of the most favorite Sherlock Holmes productions, but it is certainly very entertaining. And, although he doesn’t look the part, Downey does a great job of creating a likeable and still brainy, albeit more action oriented, Holmes. Best of all, this time Holmes is battling a truly evil villain who is using black magic to control the world. Thus, the movie has a very strong moral, biblical worldview, with some strong Christian values and references.

The movie opens with Sherlock Holmes and his faithful, brave companion, Dr. John Watson (played by Jude Law), stopping the villainous Lord Blackwood from murdering his fifth female victim on a pagan altar. Blackwood is sentenced to be executed by hanging, but he warns Holmes from his jail cell that he is planning something that will challenge all of Sherlock’s beliefs in a rational world.

Blackwood is hanged, and Dr. Watson even pronounces him dead. Soon, however, Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard bursts into Holmes and Watson’s digs at 221B Baker Street to announce a report that Blackwood has risen from the grave.

Holmes and Watson rush to the gravesite, and, sure enough, the underground mausoleum has been torn open like Jesus Christ’s empty tomb in the Four Gospels. The body in the coffin, however, turns out to be a dead underground scientist that Irene Adler, the only person who ever beat Sherlock Holmes, asked him to find for her mysterious client.

Eventually, Holmes and Watson learn that the scientist was working for Blackwood. They also learn Blackwood is intent on some dastardly scheme against the British government and involving a secret international, mystical society similar to the Masons. Can Holmes and Watson stop Blackwood’s evil plan in time? And, what is Irene Adler’s mysterious client, who happens to be a professor, really after?

Sherlock Holmes is a rousing, exciting, exuberant popcorn movie. Robert Downey, Jr., does a superb job in creating a different kind of Sherlock Holmes, while retaining the renowned deductive abilities of the world’s most famous detective. The rest of the cast is also excellent, including Jude Law as Dr. Watson, Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, and Mark Strong as Lord Blackwood. Eddie Marsan is perfect as Inspector Lestrade. In fact, he’s given a nice character arc at the end that will bring a whoop of delight in Holmes aficionados, even if they don’t like this particular incarnation of Holmes and Watson.

Director Guy Ritchie does a surprisingly good job of handling a more family-friendly action movie designed for a broader audience. He usually does R-rated crime thrillers. Also, the script is rather tight and well paced, considering the length of the film. The movie seldom lags.

Sherlock Holmes contains a couple double entendres, a nasty villain, and action violence that is sometimes strong and intense, so caution is warranted for older children. That said, it has a very strong moral worldview, with strong Christian values and content.

At one point, despite his rational methods, Holmes has a positive line of dialogue acknowledging a priest’s faith. Also, the movie shows that Christians are among the strongest opponents of Lord Blackwood, even though he deliberately has instilled fear into them and the rest of the public by posing as a demonic practitioner of the dark arts of black magic. In fact, the movie reveals that Lord Blackwood’s ultimate purpose is to rule the world with an iron fist, so he becomes a sort of demonic antichrist in the movie. In that sense, he is indeed a tool of the Devil. Of course, he eventually gets his just deserts.

Thus, with a bit of caution for younger viewers, Movieguide® highly commends Sherlock Holmes as one of the best, most entertaining, and positive movies of the year. Some Sherlock Holmes purists may be upset, but most fans and moviegoers probably will like it a lot.

NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.

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