6 May 2007 | bob the moo
Solid family drama
For many years Sherlock Holmes has relied on a small group of street kids to aid him with underground contacts and some dirty work. This gang call themselves the Irregulars and are happy for the money. When their leader Jack goes missing feared dead, they turn to Holmes for help, with Jack's sister Sadie in particular demanding he help them. On the contrary though, Holmes is investigating the murder of a police detective and needs them to find out some information from Chinatown instead. They yield and agree to help him first but when Holmes is charged with the murder himself, it becomes apparent that they all need each others' help and that the two investigations may be linked in some way.
As a fan of Sherlock Holmes I decided to give this piece of family entertainment when it was screened over two Sunday early-evenings. The film is very much intended for older children who like to read their mystery books and will see this as a grown-up drama for them to get into. Adults will see it the other way around though, because the film isn't really as grown up as it would like to be. The plot itself is serviceable enough and it held my interest as it unfolded. Of course there is missed potential here and there isn't much below the "actions" across the narrative. What I mean is that the script has a pain in Holmes that it only brings out by occasionally having him say things that make him sound like he has a pain. Similarly it stays totally away from the issue over street kids being used by Holmes! The kids themselves are the focus and, to help appeal to the target audience they are very modern and cheeky. At times this grated on me because some of the performances are not good enough to carry this approach and they jar with the setting somewhat. That said the modern approach in the direction does help give the film energy although perhaps the "Reservoir Dogs" reference at the end was a bit too obvious for its own good. Pryce is pretty good as Holmes and Paterson is a surprisingly assured Watson; together the two men have a convincing working relationship. The children are mostly good. Fernandez runs the group well, Gibbons is good; Johnson's accent bugged me and I could not work out why Hewkin was playing a girl pretending to be a boy it offered her and the film nothing.
Overall then a solid piece of family entertainment. Not as strong as it could have been but will please children looking for a more "grown up" drama and is energetic and engaging enough to be watched by parents as well.