It is easy to see why Cumberbatch has developed a dedicated following from his work as the title character on the British series “Sherlock.” He’s a walking spectacle. If I was an actor with an ego, I would not want to share screen time with this man. Unless you’re there to be comic relief, Cumberbatch is going to make you look like a dinner theater actor.
But make no mistake, this is the Benedict Cumberbatch show and he delivers an intense and frightening performance that is sure to resonate as one of the most memorable villains in recent film history. Cumberbatch commands attention from the characters and audience in every scene he is in.
But the casting coup here is Benedict Cumberbatch, who exudes steely resolve and silken savagery as a villain on the cusp of becoming a legendary nemesis. Familiar to fans of another reboot — “Sherlock” — as well as tony historical productions such as “War Horse” and “Atonement,” here Cumberbatch claims a deserved place front and center in a big, brash popcorn movie. As gratifying as it is to watch Kirk, Spock and their colleagues develop the camaraderie that would so optimistically anticipate a multicultural world, “Star Trek Into Darkness” derives its ballast, and most of its menacing pleasure, from Cumberbatch, who takes tantalizing ownership of a role with near-limitless future prospects for evil mayhem.
The big find here is Cumberbatch, who joins Ricardo Montalban, Christopher Plummer and Alice Krige in a fairly limited roster of great "Trek" villains. With his rumbling voice and stony stare, the star of Britain's detective update "Sherlock" is fearsome and relentless, a one-man army who truly seems like more than a match for poor Enterprise, all on his own.
-Christian Science Monitor
He'd be John Harrison, and the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) plays him in a tour de force to reckon with.
-Rolling Stone Magazine
Once again, a British actor with stage-trained gravitas is given the villain role. This time it’s Benedict Cumberbatch, the bow-lipped star of Sherlock and the recent BBC series Parade’s End. He stands extremely still, like a reptile ready to strike, and proves a disturbingly calm adversary for the short-fused Kirk. “Captain,” he says, in a funereal baritone that drips with pained condescension. Cumberbatch says it so wonderfully, in fact, that the script provides him with a chance to say “Captain” exactly the same way a second time.
-The Globe and Mail
Mr. Cumberbatch, pale and intense, has become the object of a global fan cult, and it’s easy to see why. Whether playing a hero (as in “Sherlock”) or a villain, he fuses Byronic charisma with an impatient, imperious intelligence that seems to raise the ambient I.Q. whenever he’s on screen.
-New York Times
But the masterstroke of Into Darkness is the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch, the BBC’s new Sherlock Holmes, as the new galaxy-threatening super villain. He’s disaffected and dangerous former Starfleet ace John Harrison, a terrorist whose true agenda is slowly revealed but whose callous disregard for human life is chilling.
The big find here is Cumberbatch, who joins Ricardo Montalban, Christopher Plummer and Alice Krige in a fairly limited roster of great ‘‘Trek’’ villains. With his rumbling voice and stony stare, the star of Britain’s detective update ‘‘Sherlock’’ is fearsome and relentless, a one-man army who truly seems like more than a match for poor Enterprise, all on his own.
It’s compulsory for blockbuster villains to be British of course, and Cumberbatch runs with an imperial theatrical haughtiness rather than trying to bury it. His bad guy is distinctly human, if a little two-dimensional, and he succeeds in showing real ice running through his veins and bringing some weight to a cast that generally offers more geniality than gravitas.
-Time Out London
Cumberbatch raises the anxiety level and performance standard whenever he’s onscreen. As the latest Sherlock Holmes on BBC, he has embodied a supersmart hero of the 1890s. Here he is the supersmart villain of the 1990s, teleported to the 23rd century. With high cheekbones and the penetrating stare of a superior automaton — or maybe just a posh Englishman looking pityingly on the other, mostly American actors — Cumberbatch infuses Into Darkness with a creepy class. Everyone else has to make do by looking fabulous.
Performances are fine, with Benedict Cumberbatch the real standout. The character may be a mess, but Cumberbatch delivers his clunky lines with exquisite iciness and menace. The British thesp has such a charismatic big screen presence that you can't wait to see him soar with better material like he often does on "Sherlock".
As the supervillain, in closeup, Cumberbatch really does give it the full Blue Steel. It's more like Indigo Steel, or Topaz Steel. As he faces off with Kirk, he does a lot of impassive and charismatic gazing, indicative of infinitesimally amused unconcern. With that expression of his, he is in danger of becoming the Joseph Fiennes of his generation.
Cumberbatch, meanwhile, makes for one of the best blockbuster villains in recent memory. While baby-faced in profile, Harrison is hawkishly fierce when coming at Kirk straight-on. He’s more than a match for the Enterprise’s tenacious captain, an element this brawny movie savors.
-New York Daily News
It hardly matters, because whatever Cumberbatch is playing, he’s wonderful to watch, infusing the movie with the kind of exotic grandeur Eric Bana’s wan Romulan henchman (arguably the weakest link in the 2009 film) largely lacked.
The movie however, is the Benedict Cumberbatch coming out party. He so effortlessly captures all of this characters’ calculating ruthlessness while also having no problem gaining audiences’ sympathies, at times seeming not too far off from Kirk. Any time he’s on screen, you can’t help but be drawn to the (sometimes even wordless) charisma on display.
No one, in any case, gets to outperform Benedict Cumberbatch's mysterious interplanetary villain "John Harrison". A sort of space ninja de luxe, this vengeful renegade first blows up the Starfleet's archive, then strafes its high command, and later has the temerity to hide out in a Klingon stronghold, where he singlehandedly bests a whole contingent of the furrowed-browed ones. He's so classy, in fact, that he gets imprisoned in one of those glass cells where they put only the really brainy, top-level evil-doers: your Magnetos and Hannibal Lecters. Cumberbatch gets to wear an even more spectacular coat than he does as the BBC Sherlock Holmes – baggier, more billowing and with a hood. As for his voice, it's so sepulchrally resonant that it could have been synthesised from the combined timbres of Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Alan Rickman holding an elocution contest down a well. And he flares a mean nostril, to boot.