Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
From Hell (2002)
18

The Hughes brothers first burst onto the cinematic scene in 1993, with searing gangster flick "Menace II Society". A slick, powerful morality tail, shot with Scorsese-like stylistic flair, it was "GoodFellas" in the ghetto.

Nearly 10 years later and this once hugely promising directorial pair are examining another underclass - that of 1890s England - but with markedly inferior results.

Adapted from Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel, "From Hell" is another big screen outing for the world's most infamous serial killer, a figure so cloaked in myth that it's easy to forget he was an actual person: Jack the Ripper.

Filmed with the brothers' trademark imagination and excess, the pic's major redemptive point is how good it looks: the film makers' admirable daring brings off some remarkable shots, while Peter Deming's cinematography captures 19th-century London's grime and beauty.

Sadly, looks are all Heather Graham - as the implausibly good-looking prostitute in peril - has going for her. It's testament to the brothers' skill with actors that she's marginally less dreadful than usual, but the inclusion of American eye-candy alongside the deliberately dowdy British hookers smacks of studio intervention.

Distraction from Graham's performance comes from Johnny Depp's extravagant, "gor'blimey" accent, as the opium-toking detective assigned to the Ripper case. Even genuine Cockneys sound pretty ridiculous in film, so Depp has no hope.

Not that he's helped by the script, which is never intriguing enough to offer any distraction. Proffering the thesis that the Ripper was involved in Free Masonry, it's based on an idea with definite potential, but while it offers up plenty of red herrings, the directors' attempts to disguise the identity of the killer are so inept they would make Brian De Palma blush.

A whodunit where the who is bloody obvious and the characters disposable, "From Hell" has the odd chilling moment, but no amount of blood 'n' guts can compensate for a lack of heart.

End Credits

Director: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

Writer: Terry Hayes, Rafael Yglesias

Stars: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Holm, Jason Flemyng, Ian Richardson, Lesley Sharp, Susan Lynch

Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller

Length: 122 minutes

Cinema: 8 February 2002

Country: USA/Czech Republic

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