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Murder by Decree Reviews

In this most recent Sherlock Holmes effort, a virtual remake of A STUDY IN TERROR (1965), the immortal detective (Plummer) is in search of London's most hideous human monster, Jack the Ripper. All of the quaint environment and atmosphere penned by Doyle comes effectively to the screen with swirling fog, rattling hansom cabs, and slippery-with-dew cobblestones as Holmes stalks the mass murderer of prostitutes in London's West End. Holmes dons his Inverness cape and deerstalker cap and smokes his famous pipe while delightedly shouting to faithful Dr. Watson (Mason), "the game's afoot!" Sir Charles Warren (Quayle), the new superintendent of Scotland Yard, purposely avoids having Holmes investigate the rash of brutal slashings attributed to Jack the Ripper, but Holmes becomes involved anyway, especially after Robert Lees (Sutherland), a real-life psychic used by the Yard during the actual Ripper case, goads the great sleuth into action. Annie Crook (Bujold), the discarded mistress of a high-born person who is also a suspect, provides the key that unlocks a mystery which baffled law enforcement officers for a century since Bloody Jack first used his surgical knives to vent his maniacal spleen on women. There is action aplenty, especially as the film nears its conclusion. The highlight, a dockside battle wherein Holmes wields a lethal weight tied to his scarf, is exhilarating. Christopher Plummer and James Mason are excellent as Holmes and Watson, as is the first-rate supporting cast. Though the script is a bit dense and the film slightly overlong, it's exciting and engrossing on all levels.