Yippee-ti-yi-yo, Watson! Sherlock Holmes meets Jesse James.
When Thomas Howard, a brawny, well-armed man from Missouri, defends Countess Elaina Montague’s jewels, and very likely her honor, from Blackrat Lynch’s gang of East End ruffians, she thinks the least she can do is move him from his seedy digs to Montague Hall as her guest. Her husband won’t mind, she assures him, because he’s dead—tactfully not adding that his fall down a flight of stairs has been deemed suspicious by no one less than Sherlock Holmes. In order to repay her debt to Howard, Elaina takes him to her bed and introduces him to Holmes and Watson, who she feels certain are just the right men to help Howard find his missing brother, Hank. But the great detective and his prospective client are soon (literally) at swords’ points with each other, and Holmes, whose lightning deductions are the best thing in this lark, informs Howard that Hank is no more than a red herring for the real purpose of Howard’s visit to London. The revelations that follow put Holmes and Watson, demoted from narrator to walk-on, in the middle of a fight to the finish between celebrated outlaw Jesse James and Cage Liggett, the Pinkerton man so determined to apprehend him that he set fire to his family home, crippling his mother and killing his young brother. Clearly, the game is afoot.
Western specialists Hayes and Whitehead (Under the Knife, 2011, etc.) make Holmes, who “normally slept till noon,” less Conan Doyle than Robert Downey Jr. and Howard as painfully American as only the English can do. Strictly for sightseers who’ve pined to see the Wild West come to a vaguely Victorian London.