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(2009), PG-13 [R-13*] (2hr 2min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
April 13, 2010
May 3, 2010

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2009), PG-13 [R-13*] ... a moral corruption of the Doyle brainchild.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Silver Pictures, Wigram Productions, Internationale Filmproduktion Blackbird Dritte, Lin Pictures  •  Distribution (US): Warner Home Video  •  Director(s): Guy Ritchie  •  Producer(s): Bruce Berman, Steve Clark-Hall, Susan Downey, Peter Eskelsen, Dana Goldberg, Dan Lin, Joel Silver, Michael Tadross, Lionel Wigram  •  Writing Credits: Screenplay - Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg; Screen Story; Lionel Wigram, Michael Robert Johnson; Characters (Holmes & Watson) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  •  Cinematography/Camera: Philippe Rousselot  •  Music: Hans Zimmer  •  Film Editing: James Herbert  •  Casting: Reg Poerscout-Edgerton  •  Production Design: Sarah Greenwood  •  Art Direction: Niall Moroney  •  Viewed on Warner Home Video DVD

This film analysis is sponsored by the generosity of E&HP.

This is a hard film to summarize on paper. It is a mixture of the famous Sherlock Holmes dazzling logic and powers of observation with embracement of all that is unholy. When the two are combined, the fabric of "making sense" is stretched to the point of losing any pattern on the fabric. It it were not for the poetic license to "butcher the king's English", which applies to cinematography as well, there would be little hope for this film "making sense." If it does.

The main characters of old literary fame are there: the pipe-puffing, now bare-fisted boxer Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.); the faithful and integral protagonist Dr. John Watson (Jude law); the bumbling Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan). A "new" character is Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who is foiled by Holmes as he tries to sacrifice his sixth female victim. Moriarty is there as well but I will not tell you who or how lest I spoil too many of the film's morsels of beguilery.

Another Holmesian morsel is presented in the character of Irene Alder (Rachel McAdams), an old flame and antagonist of Holmes. Adler is equal but opposite to Holmes. She is as good at crime as he is at solving crime. I said 'old flame' of Holmes because the script reveals she and he had earlier lived together unmarried.

Also in the romance department, Watson is shadowed by Mary Mostan (Kelly Reilly) as his intended. They are to be wed eventually but I don't remember if they ever get there in the show. But since Watson will soon snuggle in nuptial bliss he moves out of the apartment he shares with Holmes -- or tries to anyway. I don't think he ever makes it completely out.

The story opens with an already-happened plot builder as Scotland Yard chases Holmes to arrest him. While they chase him down is when Holmes foils the dastardly plans of Lord Blackwood to offer his sixth sacrifice to evil. Five women are dead because of Blackwood. With this sixth woman laying on the sacrificial table holding a knife above herself, it is Holmes to the rescue in a dashing last-second block of the plunging blade.

Another part of the beginning of the show is more display of Holmes' dazzle ... but not of logic or powers of observation but of physical prowess. In a bare-knuckle bout with McMurdo (David Garrick) where Holmes literally "addresses" his punches (to the audience anyway while we watch) by mentally planning every blow of the final volley then delivering them. Brutally.

There is a warehouse of action and intellectual trickery for even the die-hard Holmes fan. The film is also filled with find-the-hidden-picture nuggets of Doyle's Sherlock lore, but I will stop here and leave them up to your discovery should you opt to sit for two hours and two minutes of ... of ... of whatever describes it best.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
In a number of places this film is intensely violent. There is no gore to speak of but there is plenty of brutally realistic violence. Far too much violence to even itemize in this Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area summary. Please rely on the itemized listing in the Findings/Scoring section to discover the depth of the violence content. As you read the listing please carry with you God's admonition against entertaining violence: to not fill you mind and/or heart with it, even in fantasy. [Prov. 16:29]

Impudence/Hate (I) - 89 out of 100
I'd like to say "Glory, be!" about the grand total of two uses of profanity in this film of two hours and two minutes but any use of profanity is a sin. [Prov. 8:13, Col. 3:8] (If you don't like those Rules, talk to the One who wrote them.) The reason the area score is not higher since there are only two uses of profanity is the other matters of impudence on the part of the writers such as a lie and flatulence. [Eph. 5:4]

Sexual Immorality (S) - 37 out of 100
Unfortunately, Sherlock is a lot more sexual in this, a moral corruption of the Doyle brainchild. The writers chose to present Downey bound in bed fully nude with a small throw pillow hiding only his private parts -- in the front. And the writers added a comment made by Downey about removing the pillow to fetch the key to the handcuffs binding him to the railing of the bed. While that is certainly a stab at the coarse joking God warns us about in Eph. 5:4, it is also purely sexual in nature. Other matters of the sexual nature included addmssion of cohabitation, a woman stripping to nudity in front of a man, crotch hits, an insult using sexual anatomy and a flashback of Downey's nudity.

By the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul wrote about such matters in Col. 2:20 through 2:23. In a nutshell, if we love Jesus why then do we still embrace worldly values and ethics such as are planted in us by such entertainment which emboldens that which it plants? [Col. 2:20 - 23]

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 67 out of 100
The usual stuff for most PG-13s: drinking repeatedly, smoking repeatedly and drugging in this one.

Offense to God (O) - 13 out of 100
Here is where a lot of the content challenges wholesome honor of His Word, most of it by embracing unholy "magic" ... repeatedly. [Deut. 18:9 - 12] Suggestion of unholy resurrection. Palmistry. Sacrifice. Mockery of Jesus and His Holiness. Abuse of Scripture wisdom. Calling evil good [Isa. 5:20]. And more. Much more.

Murder/Suicide (M) - 78 out of 100
Since this is a murder mystery it demonstrates murder. Three times. Once unseen, once by drowning, once by incineration.


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  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "justified" the violence might seem, and its "leading" effect on the observer. "A violent man" ["man" here is enowsh {en-oshe'}: man (collective), mortal, person, mankind; contracted for iysh {eesh}: whosoever, each] can be any character of any age, any gender, human or not since the cinematic display is at the hands men and women, in the act of committing (demonstrating in the case of entertainment) violent behavior/action whether for good or evil or the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for American professional health community to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Prov. 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off [rid yourself of] all these; anger, wrath, malice [kakia: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity, evil, trouble, not ashamed to break laws, etc.], blasphemy [blasphemia: impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty], filthy communication [aischrologia:foul speaking, low and obscene speech] out of your mouth.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • (NIV) Col. 2:20 - 23 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world [cast off slavery to lewd behavior and thought], why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. [In other words, if you have accepted Christ as your Lord and resurrected Savior and inherently embrace His Word, why do you still think it is acceptable to tease, to lust and perform sexual behaviors outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage and tease with your body through exhibitionism because the world ("everybody else") does it and indeed encourages and emboldens such values but your Savior's Word says it is detestable?]
  • Deut. 18:9 - 12 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee [which figuratively can include the big screen in front of you], thou shalt not learn to do [which includes not embrace] after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
    •• abominations [to`ebah {to-ay-baw'}: a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable; wickedness]
    •• divination [qecem {keh'-sem}: witchcraft, false prophets]
    •• observer of times [anan {aw-nan'}: soothsayer, sorceress, enchanter (one who practices divination), to make appear, control weather, conjurer, spiritism, unholy magic]
    •• witch [kashaph {kaw-shaf'}: sorcerer, sorceress, one who practices unholy magic]
    •• charmer [chabar {khaw-bar'}: to unite, join, bind together with charms (voodoo)]
    •• consulter with familiar spirits [owb {obe}: necromancer, one who evokes/communicates with the dead; ghost, spirit of a dead one; one who has a familiar spirit]
    •• wizard [yidd@`oniy {yid-deh-o-nee'}: one who has a familiar spirit; a familiar spirit; soothsayer; necromancer]
    [God sounds so serious about embracing evil that it seems He would include embracing evil even in and as entertainment since it has been proven in so many ways that entertainment can and does influence deeply and contaminate values. Even God agrees with that. (see 1 Cor. 15:33).]
  • Isa. 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Sherlock Holmes (2009) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
  • pursuit to kill
  • firearm for assault/threat, repeatedly
  • physical assault, frequent, of varying intensity
  • woman in captivity for sacrifice by suicide
  • attempted suicide
  • gunfire killing, repeatedly
  • threat to kill with blade to face
  • reckless gunfire
  • petty theft, repeatedly
  • long and brutal boxing sequence
  • scene of hanging by the neck
  • action violence, repeatedly, of varying intensity
  • threat to kill with knife to throat and face
  • attempted robbery and sexual assault
  • dead body, repeatedly
  • long sequence of fighting and other action violence
  • long sequence of assault, action violence, gunfire to kill with pursuit to kill and heavy property damage
  • attempted murder of woman by incineration
  • attempted multiple murders by multiple explosions with fire
  • threat to kill
  • long sequence of action violence
  • lite injury gore
  • police/government corruption
  • gunfire to kill, repeatedly
  • long sequences of action violence with fighting with clubs and blades and repeated gunfire to kill
  • gunfire to intimidate
  • additional action violence, repeatedly of varying intensity
  • flashbacks of violence
  • death by accidental hanging
  • image of fake hanging
  • more flashes of episodes of violence, gunfire to kill, etc.

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 89 out of 100
  • two uses of profanity
  • flatulence
  • "nothing" lie

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 37 out of 100
  • admission of immoral sexual behavior
  • woman in towel only
  • woman stripping to nudity, no gender-specifics seen
  • woman stripping to nudity in front of a man
  • man in bath tub
  • full male nudity with convenience objects (pillow) hiding gender-specifics while bound to bed rails
  • crude request - to lift pillow (from above) to fetch handcuff key
  • insult with anatomical reference
  • crotch hit, twice
  • flash of full male nudity from above during rolling credits

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 67 out of 100
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • booze
  • drugging to unconsciousness
  • drinking, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O) - 13 out of 100
  • suggestion of unholy resurrection
  • palmistry
  • images of sorcery/wizardry
  • embracing unholy magic, repeatedly
  • unholy altar
  • mockery of Jesus and His holiness
  • abuse of Scripture wisdom, repeatedly
  • self injury to draw blood for spell-casting
  • toying with unholy magic
  • calling evil good

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 78 out of 100
  • murder by drowning
  • murder by incineration
  • murder by gunfire (unseen)

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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