Mr. Holmes is not a mystery film. It is not about Holmes working on a compelling case putting you on the edge of your seat. Instead we get something more universal. Something all people will have to deal with at one point. Which is old age.
This might not be what most of the fans were hoping for. I can't deny that I myself was expecting to get propelled into a thrilling adventure where Holmes would prove even in old age to be one of the most brilliant minds ever. Still in hindsight I think it is actually an interesting approach to a topic a lot of us are fearing a little. Being forgetful is one thing but to lose certain parts of your memory forever that must be something that is frustrating and scary. And what better way to show this using an established character like Sherlock Holmes. Who doesn't know this genius consulting detective? What would it be like if your mind wanders? What effect does it have on you? Does it change your views on life? Does it change who you are? Mr. Holmes touches this subject very subtly and answers some of these questions.
I enjoyed this approach very much but it was Ian McKellen's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes that provides the most fun. He is able to show hints of the old Holmes we all know and the new one who is trying to come to terms with not being the same as he used to be. He also shows us a vulnerability to his character we have rarely seen. In one scene we very briefly and subtly get confronted with the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. While the setting itself is quite unnerving it is the reaction of Holmes that makes you realize how cruel and devastating this atom bomb was. His younger self might not have shown this side to him no matter how deeply it would have affected him.
Mr. Holmes is a little and subtle movie that definitely won't be for everyone especially if you were hoping for some mystery to be solved. However there is enough there (if you choose to do so) to keep you entertained.