Movie Review: From Hell (2001)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2001 action/mystery starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham.

Synopsis: An opium-addicted detective with clairvoyant tendencies is called in to investigate the gruesome Jack the Ripper murders of London prostitutes. During the course of his investigation, he learns the victims all know each other and share a scandalous secret that could bring down the British Empire.

Review

My wife and I attempted to watch this particular movie a few different times in the past but, for some reason, could never seem to get a DVD that didn't have a big scratch down the center of it. So, when I saw it was airing on one of our movie channels last night, I didn't hesitate to finally watch it with her.

I was under the impression this movie was going to be a thriller. In fact, I think that's how it is classified. After watching it, however, I think I would personally classify this as a mystery. And, it is a pretty decent mystery.

I've seen quite a few films that are centered around some sort of unsolved crime and, because of that, I was fully expecting this movie to follow the same basic format as those and have the Jack the Ripper slayings in the background, focus on some other story that is loosely related to the murders and, ultimately, make no attempt to solve them. I was, admittedly, mistaken. This movie focuses squarely on the murders and comes up with its own theories about who committed them, why they did it and why they were never caught. Whether or not the writers were right obviously remains up for debate. But, it was a bold move that I personally think paid off.

I particularly liked the idea of the Jack the Ripper murders being an elaborate cover up to hide a royal scandal. Whether or not that idea has any merit will, again, remain up for debate. But, it was definitely a unique idea that honestly doesn't seem to be overly outrageous.

I'm still a bit undecided about the way this movie ends. Part of the ending was to be expected given the historical context of the film. However, the writers decided to end this movie on a pretty depressing note and I'm not sure if that was really necessary. Considering the killer (obviously) gets away, I think it would have been better to find a way to end this on a more upbeat note, such as maybe having Depp's character and Graham's character escaping the scandal by secretly sailing to America.

That being said, the ending, while depressing, still worked pretty well and, even as is, doesn't do anything to hurt this film.

From Hell (Widescreen Edition)

A clairvoyant police detective must stop the most notorious serial killer in history - Jack the Ripper - before it's too late! Johnny Depp and Heather Graham star in this "engro...

View on Amazon

Final Opinion

The film takes a little while to get going and you do have to pay attention in order to keep track of what is happening. However, this is a good thriller/mystery that is worth taking the time to watch if you haven't seen it before, especially if you like Jack the Ripper theories.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 06/12/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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