Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Following whatever the Hell happened in the last movie, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jnr.) is now on the case of Prof. James Moriarty (Jared Harris), the man he believes to be responsible for a spate of bombings across Europe. As France and Germany teeter on the edge of war, Holmes continues his investigations, inadvertantly putting associate Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), his blushing bride (Kelly Reilly) and resident femme fatale Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in danger. Pursuing the master criminal first to Paris, where Holmes and Watson track down fortune-telling gypsy Sim (Noomi Rapace), before finally ending up at a peace conference in Switzerland, the board is set as Holmes and Moriarty enter into a game of chess with only one seemingly unavoidable outcome.

With Arthur Conan Doyle having woven the definitive list of plot spoilers into his Sherlock Holmes stories, returning director Guy Ritchie must rely on his assembled cast and the relationships developed between them in order to incite any tension in this otherwise predictable slew of plot points. Luckily, whether by design or complete accident, the ensemble works to such a truly impressive degree that the endless slow-motion is almost worth it. Downey Jnr. has perfected his mockney accent and settled into duly character, Law has never been better than as the ever-exasperated Dr. Watson, and – in a welcome turn of events – Harris is even pretty menacing as Holmes’ nemesis Moriarty.

Having apparently moved on from his low-budget gangster movie phase and stumbled awkwardly into Hollywood, Guy Ritchie has clearly found himself caught up in studio politics. Told that he simply must have a female character in his movie, lest the studio unwittingly forfeit an entire section of its demographic, Ritchie has picked the first plot point in sight and hung a pair of breasts on it. Poor Noomi Rapace, not only must her Hollywood début screen following trailers for the reboot of her definitive work, but she must follow her accomplished turn as Lisbeth Salander with an utterly forgettable part as What’s Her Name, the vaguely European gypsy.

That said, the supporting cast doesn’t completely disappoint. Although wasted, Rapace nevertheless holds her own, doing the best she can with a character designed to get our heroes from Point A to Point B, preferably with a short explanation of their motives en route. Elsewhere, Stephen Fry delights as Stephen Fry In A Wig and Rachel McAdams manages to once again steal the show despite only appearing in a scattering of scenes.

Despite the best efforts of all involved, however, Sherlock Holmes 2 is never quite as clever or engaging as an adaptation of Doyle’s novels should be, particularly given the heavyweight nature of the storyline, the culmination of which Ritchie simply hasn’t earned. The pace is glacial, as the chemistry carefully built up between actors is routinely undercut with a series of endless set pieces that still do not fit the source material. With the deductions and investigation taking constant breaks so that Ritchie can shoehorn in a few fisticufs and rewrite history to accommodate his childish love of guns (although credit where credit’s due for leaving the Zeppelins to Paul W. S. Anderson – God I hate steampunk), the film might not be anywhere near as bad as The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it is nevertheless telling that such a comparison could still be made.

Perfectly watchable and even passingly enjoyable, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is unfortunately undermined by its director’s inability to grasp the essense of Doyle’s stories. Had this taken its inspiration from any other Holmes story it might even have impressed, but in cheapening one of the character’s most defining moments, Ritchie has only served to prove that his skills are still unworthy of the greatest detective who ever lived.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

  1. Pingback: December 2011 – I Agree It’s Not My Best Disguise. « popcornaddict

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