Johnny Depp stars as Inspector Abberline, the Victorian detective charged with catching Jack the Ripper, in this big screen adaptation of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's acclaimed graphic novel. Despite the fact that he is struggling with an opium addiction and the ghosts of his dead wife and child, Abberline nevertheless quickly discovers that the Ripper is a man with an expert's knowledge of human anatomy and some kind of connection to the Freemasons. As his investigations continue, he meets prostitute Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) and following her leads discovers that the killings are connected to people in the highest reaches of British society; but as he gets closer to revealing the culprit, both he and Mary find themselves in mortal danger.
Heavy on atmosphere and light on everything else, From Hell
is visually impressive while lacking the depth of the acclaimed graphic novel it's based upon. Making their third feature since 1993's Menace II Society
, twins Allen and Albert Hughes approach the Jack the Ripper case with physical precision, re-creating the gritty Whitechapel district of 1888 London in meticulous detail. What they've forgotten is the sheer terror that gripped Whitechapel in the wake of the Ripper's slaying of five prostitutes, investigated here by a Scotland Yard sleuth (Johnny Depp) who uses opium, laudanum and absinthe to fuel his semi-prescient visions of the slayings. Heather Graham attempts a slippery Cockney accent as a would-be victim, while Ian Holm steals the show as a has-been surgeon with devilish delusions of grandeur. Violence is obliquely suggested or briefly graphic, but no matter how you cut it, From Hell is only marginally thrilling as it treads familiar territory. --Jeff Shannon
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