I will openly admit to my fanboy disappointment when I first heard they were doing a big screen adaptation of Mitch Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind. I remembered being disappointed in both that book and Michael Chabon's The Final Solution after reading them, back in 2005 because they both featured an ancient Sherlock Holmes who was not up to par. To my mind they were just two more incarcations of "broken Holmes," a version of Sherlock I've never been fond of, whether he is incapacitated by age, drug addiction, or a solid hit to the head. One buys the ticket to see Superman use his powers, after all, not be Clark Kent for the whole movie.
And in 2005, we hadn't been introduced to BBC Sherlock's younger, vital Holmes yet, so the thought that all our Holmeses from there onward were going to be doddering old fools was rather painful.
So, like I said, my first reaction to the announcement of the movie that would later be titled "Mr. Holmes" was pretty negative. Didn't care that it was coming, didn't want to see the trailers, generally decided to avoid it, sight unseen. Yes, I am that kind of fanboy, as anyone who has read enough of my screed on Elementary well knows.
But this morning, I had a little too much time to kill, and Mary Michaud Loving had posted a link to that Mr. Holmes clip that's been making the rounds on the Norwegian Explorers Facebook page, so I gave it a go.
Sir Ian McKellen has been a favorite actor of mine for a while. I mean, sure his Gandalf and Magneto are popcorn-movie favorites, but things like Gods and Monsters were very enjoyable bits of his acting goodness as well. None of those things, however, prepared me for his aged Sherlock Holmes.
The old fellow we see strolling down the country lane with his housekeeper's son in that Mr. Holmes clip is not a "broken Holmes" at all. He seems very much a true Sherlock Holmes who has lost some steps with age, yes, but is still holding it together. He's intelligent and charming . . . not that mandatory mass of socially crippling quirks that our modern stuff wants to attach to the Great Detective. (And quirks which will normally knock the capital letters off "Great Detective" at that!) And he totally satisfies that gut-level Sherlock Holmes test we all have that says "Sherlock" or "not Sherlock," at least in my case.
So, bravo, Sir Ian! I shall happily look forward to Mr. Holmes from here on in, with complete fanboy satisfaction. True talent is a fine medicine for the sour prejudgment.