Over the many years of the character’s representation on the big screen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sociopath detective has captivated hearts with his energy, elegance, charm, and charisma. Sherlock Holmes has been played and voiced by over 70 different actors in hundreds of films, series, plays, and radio shows, and his intelligence has left a lasting impression on the audience. Sherlock Holmes spawned a new genre that combined detective themes with thrills, suspense, and action. As Hollywood grew, books with similar themes were adapted into movies. In the absence of the greatest detective himself, these adaptations and inspirations from ‘Sherlock Holmes’ provided some scary stories to vouch for. Here’s a selection of movies that are similar to Sherlock Holmes and that we think will satisfy your detective movie cravings. Some of these films, such as Sherlock Holmes, are available to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu.
Table Of Content
- 1 Angels and Demons (2009)
- 2 Brick (2005)
- 3 Dirty Harry (1971)
- 4 Gone Baby Gone (2007)
- 5 L.A. Confidential (1997)
- 6 Murder On The Orient Express (2017)
- 7 Primal Fear (1996)
- 8 Se7en (1995)
- 9 Shutter Island (2010)
- 10 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
- 11 The Maltese Falcon (1941)
- 12 The Usual Suspects (1995)
- 13 Unknown (2011)
- 14 Zodiac (2007)
Angels and Demons (2009)
‘Angels & Demons,’ the second episode in Ron Howard’s Robert Langdon film adaptations of Dan Brown’s novels, follows Professor Langdon (Tom Hanks) as he investigates a robbery at the Large Hadron Collider facility in Geneva, which leads to a wider Vatican conspiracy. Langdon strives to prevent a nuclear attack on the city, which might result in a terrible conflict between religion and science, in the film.
Ron Howard’s attempt to reproduce the essence of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (2006) outperforms his previous effort and provides the audience with a stunning and mind-bending suspense-thriller. Dealing with a sensitive subject of Catholic beliefs and scientific evolution, Howard is able to convey Brown’s words from the book in a profound and beautiful way, with some great alterations to meet the perceptions of modern-day viewers, thanks to his experienced directing vision. In the last scene, just as the film is about to reach a heroic conclusion, a bomb is dropped on the audience, readily capable of shocking them. Angels & Demons is a remarkable departure from standard detective flicks and is one of the best sequels to date.
‘Brick’ was Joseph Gordon-first Levitt’s taste of non-commercial success, and it is films like this that have cemented his reputation as a successful performer. This crime thriller, set and photographed in a neo-noir style, follows Brendan Frye, a young student who decides to take on the youth drug mafia in his town, who have been distributing drugs among students and are responsible for Brendan’s ex-girlfriend Emily’s death.
Joseph’s spectacular portrayal of a lonely and self-obsessed individual not only displays his talent but also represents his abilities and charisma found in his current roles in ‘Brick,’ a low-budget thriller. Joseph succeeds in this picture, as he makes excellent use of his screen time to propel the tale to a gripping conclusion. Director Rian Johnson does set the command loose in a couple of sequences, but they are overshadowed by Joseph’s leadership. ‘Brick,’ a dark film with an optimistic edge, is a modern-day cult classic that takes a realistic look at drug distribution in schools and colleges.
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Dirty Harry (1971)
‘Dirty Harry,’ the first film directed by a Hollywood director in the genre of a detective-cop on the trail of a known psychotic killer, was the first influence from the San Francisco Zodiac crimes. The film was released during a period when the Zodiac was active in several California counties and the investigation into his murders was still ongoing. ‘Dirty Harry,’ directed by Don Siegel, took the cases’ popularity and turned it into an original narrative based on a fictional case and cop figure. Inspector Harry Callahan is tasked with apprehending an infamous kidnapper known as Scorpio in the film.
Clint Eastwood plays Harry, and his performance, phrase delivery, and loose-cannon officer mentality alone make the film a hardcore entertainment. Despite the film’s lack of perseverance in scripting and other actor performances, Eastwood’s popularity and fan base made it a massive box-office hit, leading to four sequels, all of which were monetary successes.
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
‘Gone Baby Gone,’ a modern-day neo-noir drama with elements of detective puzzles and suspense thrillers, follows two private investigators as they try to investigate the kidnapping of a young girl from Boston. Anyone who has seen ‘Gone Baby Gone’ would almost certainly agree that it is a picture that will be featured in cult classic lists fifty years from now, just as films such as ’12 Angry Men’ (1957) have done for all generations.
Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ stars his brother Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan and is a visual pleasure. Ben returned to the mainstream in the director’s chair at a time when he was going through his most difficult career crisis, giving audiences a taste of his flexibility. His work on the picture demonstrates his experience, capacity to learn and grasp, and distinct and unmatched vision, which makes it engaging, compelling, and artistic. Despite the film’s lackluster performances, Ben’s direction and screenwriting make it captivating and admirable. ‘Gone Baby Gone’ remains one of the most fascinating detective thrillers of the new millennium, with a 94 percent reviewer rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
‘L.A. Confidential,’ based on James Elroy’s best-selling novel of the same name, follows three officers assigned to a murder case. Two of them are persuaded that organized crime and government corruption are involved in a case that appears to be an open and shut mugged robbery. The audience is transported on a voyage of full wonder as they watch the most elegant ensemble embark on a bloody trail to battle crime and corruption as the three of them, all different personalities, develop an uneasy, non-cooperative, and undesired alliance to solve the case.
The three cops, played by Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce, are the best part of the movie. Much has been said, and these three names should be enough to entice someone to leave their work and watch this film. While Spacey had already been nominated for an Academy Award, Pearce and Crowe were still unknown and unestablished stars at the time of the film’s release. The cast was a probable risk for director Curtis Hanson, but it paid off handsomely: ‘L.A. Confidential’ received nine Oscar nominations (though it lost seven to ‘Titanic’), a 99 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating, and brought Hollywood a slew of new stars.
Murder On The Orient Express (2017)
When the trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s remake of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ initially aired, it sparked a lot of excitement among fans of the 1974 original. With an all-star cast that included Academy Award contender Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, and Branagh himself, as well as producers Simon Kinberg and Ridley Scott, the film raised expectations among fans and critics alike. ‘Murder on the Orient Express,’ however, despite an all-star cast that includes Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, and Judi Dench, missed the thrill and efficacy in its directing and acting, and failed to deliver a result as brilliant as the previous one.
The manner Branagh has portrayed the story on-screen is what merits the picture for this list. The plot’s progression, as well as the production design, set locations, and climax shot, contributed to ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ being a blockbuster hit, spawning a sequel expected to be released in 2019. While the performances and portrayal of Poirot’s persona are not very spectacular, the film’s complex tale manages to persuade the audience.
Primal Fear (1996)
‘Primal Fear’ recounts the investigation of Aaron (Edward Norton), a 19-year-old altar boy charged with the murder of his Archbishop, by his lawyer Martin Vail (Richard Gere), who feels Aaron is innocent and is being framed.
‘Primal Fear’ does not appear to be among the top films of the 1990s decade, or any decade when compared, based on the screenwriting, Gere’s performance, or the plot. However, this film is to attest for Edward Norton’s captivating debut, his moments of character development, and his magnetic features and gestures. While the first half of the story leaves the audience a little befuddled, the climax hits the ground running with a mind-blowing twist. ‘Primal Fear’ is a must-see for Norton, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his first performance.
‘Se7en,’ one of the best films of 1995, can be considered a revolution in the detective-mystery thriller genre in Hollywood. David Fincher introduced audiences to a neo-noir, dark, and twisted on-screen representation of traditional detective thriller storytelling at a period when audiences’ perceptions of detective films were limited to portraying investigators as intelligent assassins and always-victorious figures. Fincher’s ‘Se7en,’ which came out almost a decade before ‘Zodiac,’ (2007), was his first foray into a storyline in which a killer or criminal was cleverer, ruthless, and one step ahead of the good guys, comparable to the Sherlock Holmes films. His experiment blossomed into filmmaking innovation thanks to the individuals he chose, the dots he connected, and an unexpected and gritty ending.
In terms of acting, Fincher combined Morgan Freeman’s intellect with Brad Pitt’s comedy and arrogance to bring Mills and Somerset to life, all while keeping the killer’s casting a mystery and making the most of Paltrow’s character in the conclusion. ‘Se7en’ is a story that has yet to be matched in the world of cinema, filled with brutality and evil, as well as the scariest ending ever.
Shutter Island (2010)
‘Shutter Island’ follows two federal marshals, Edward Daniels and Chuck Aule, as they investigate the disappearance of a prisoner called Rachel Solando on an offshore island where a mental institution for criminally insane people keeps the most savage murderers and rapists. As Edward builds his case, he is haunted by memories of his time in the military and the murder of his family as he tries to find the truth about the actions at the institution. ‘Shutter Island,’ based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, is Martin Scorsese’s most twisted picture to date, pushing the boundaries of suspense, mystery, and thriller elements in Hollywood. The picture, which is set in the 1950s, combines aspects of detective thrillers with psychological horror and delusional story-telling.
Scorsese’s longtime partner Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, and Mark Ruffalo star in the film, which also features a dramatic and uncontrolled performance from Max von Sydow. ‘Shutter Island’ is a masterpiece, not just for its suspense and thrill, but also for the skilfully generated story components in between the scenes, which can only be identified via numerous viewings and binge watching it.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ another ensemble cast picture, is an espionage/detective/spy thriller that lacks the thrills and shocks of a murder investigation, opting instead for a somber, dark, and cryptic take on the genre. ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ a flawless adaptation of John le Carre’s novel of the same name, portrays a group of British Intelligence officers as they struggle to locate a Soviet mole on their team. The film is recognized for its deep and intricate plot, as well as its masterful unraveling of the complexity. Director Alfredson expertly connects the dots to solve the enigma in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ creating a sense of uneasiness. Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the picture, which features all of the British film industry’s pillars of sublimity and exquisiteness.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
‘The Maltese Falcon,’ a classic item on the list, is a detective and noir crime film set in the 1940s. ‘The Maltese Falcon’ is a stylized picture about a detective seeking to solve a murder spree that began with his partner’s death, a search for a stolen artifact, and dealing with a femme fatale. ‘The Maltese Falcon’ was produced in 1941, at a period when the Sherlock Holmes series featuring Basil Rathbone dominated the detective cinema genre. Despite competing against the greatest detective of all time, the film managed to garner all of the attention and anticipation, owing to its photography, a darker approach to crime and detective thriller stories, and an unusual manner of telling the story.
The picture, which starred Humphrey Bogart, was nominated for three Academy Awards, the most interesting of which was Sydney Greenstreet’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his debut film. The film has been included in several lists of accolades and is being preserved by the National Library of Congress. ‘The Maltese Falcon’ is one of the few films to be included in film critic Roger Ebert’s Best Films list, as well as many American Film Institute lists.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Bryan Singer’s directorial debut may not be a big-budget film, but it has all the elements to be a suspenseful thriller with a plotline that follows a detective film’s pattern of connecting dots and then letting all hell break loose in an incredible ending. That’s what a Sherlock Holmes-style picture is all about. The film follows an investigating officer and small-time crook Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint as they recount the circumstances leading up to a massacre at the Port of Los Angeles. As Kint tells the scenario that leads to the port, the officer tries to piece together the clues that lead to Keyser Soze, a mafia boss who controls the world of organized crime.
Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Benicio del Toro, and Kevin Spacey star in the picture, which has a relatively unknown cast. The ensemble, particularly Spacey and del Toro, became overnight celebrities as a result of their extraordinary performances in the film. ‘The Usual Suspects’ went on to win two Academy Awards for Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor, much to the surprise of most critics.
Liam Neeson gained new recognition in Hollywood as an action icon after starring in the hit action film ‘Taken’ (2008), which dramatically changed his image among his admirers. In 2011, Liam Neeson was cast in a new action-thriller film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who was best known at the time for directing ‘Orphan’ (2009). ‘Unknown’ follows Dr. Martin Harris as he tries to verify his identity to the public and relive the events of the previous day after being involved in a car accident.
‘Unknown,’ which also stars Diane Kruger and January Jones, is an interesting psychological-action picture that captivates fans from the start and leads them through the unraveling of a well-constructed plot to a very unexpected conclusion. Collet-Serra has done an excellent job of putting the material on screen, avoiding extraneous pauses and keeping the film moving at a good speed. ‘Unknown’ is an artistic viewing because to Liam Neeson’s expert-style performance and his ability to hold the entire picture on his own. Despite the film’s mixed reviews, Collet-Serra went on to work with Liam Neeson on a number of films in the future.
‘Zodiac,’ a dark, interesting, and gritty thriller from David Fincher’s warped sense of scene capturing, is one of Hollywood’s best mystery-thrillers in the last two decades. ‘Zodiac’ follows cartoonist Robert Graysmith of the San Francisco Chronicles and his obsession with identifying the renowned Zodiac killer, who has been ridiculing law enforcement and threatening the public through his codes, letters, and encryptions to the newspaper. The film follows Graysmith, his colleague Paul Avery, and Detective in-Charge Dave Toschi as they investigate the murders from three separate perspectives.
Aside from Fincher’s great direction, the film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr., who played his all-time favorite role in ‘Iron Man’ just a year before. ‘Zodiac’ is an aesthetic cinematic piece that will boggle your mind and increase your every moment in its three-hour running length, thanks to the amazing synchronization of the three actors (particularly Ruffalo), the veracity of the plot, and Fincher’s pure tolerance for perfection and enthusiasm.
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