BRIEFLY: If you liked the original Guy Ritchie film, you’ll love the new one. Though there is nothing particularly groundbreaking here, it’s certainly a lot of film. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows overcomes lazy plotting (sometimes you wonder even if there is a plot) and pacing issues that are bogged down due to excessive dialogue. Nonetheless, the chemistry of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law is purely infectious—making this an exciting ride you simply shouldn’t miss this holiday season.
DETAILED REVIEW: Guy Ritchie has found his foothold in Hollywood. His best work in Snatch and Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels are considered at best, “fringe” hits. I mean, if you know any of those titles you probably deserve a gold star. While married to the
Miss Monster Madonna, his career took a backseat to her fame. He succumbed and mad what many regard as the worst film of all time Swept Away (Yes, even Tip-Toes plays second fiddle this atrocity). Nonetheless, Warner Bros. put trust in Ritchie to resurrect the famed detective franchise, Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie delivered with the first installment, and he has certainly done it again with the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
Back are Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson). They are comedic gold and are the perfect combination and foil to one another. They are the 19th century version of the “Bromance.” It’s refreshing to see actors enjoying their jobs like Law and Downey Jr. It’s also not a stretch to say that Ritchie enjoys it as well—after all he is the magician behind this spectacle. Every frame oozes the time period and Ritchie deserves kudos for helping us escape, completely into another era.
As far as plot is concerned, there really isn’t one. Sure, films like this really don’t need one (see Pirates of the Carribbean, Die Hard, and any Michael Bay explosion movie for further evidence), nevertheless it’s a distraction. At times it’s hard to discern how or even why we get from one scene to the next. All we really do know is there some big “end-of-the-world” thing going down and Holmes is the only one capable of solving the mystery and saving the day. Dr. Moriarty, the heretofore faceless arch enemy of Holmes is behind the grand scheme.
Noomi Rapace plays a gypsy whose brother has something really bad to do with the whole “end-of-the-world” scheme and thrust Europe into a World War. Problem is, Rapace does absolutely nothing to make us care about her, and we do have to assume she is the emotional backbone of the story (Mostly because Holmes and Watson are all about the slap-shtick). Instead, Rapace is seen scrambling with Sherlock and Watson while both of them talk a lot and she manages to do very little, both in dialogue and in serving whatever plot the films upholds. Perhaps she was meant to be some sort of Femme Fatale archetype, but she is never fleshed out enough to really do anything but be a “tag-a-long.”
The pacing is uneven as well, at least in the beginning, but that was a problem with the original as well. We move either really fast from one action set-up to the next, or really slow, plodding through painfully drawn out dialogue. Nevertheless, Downey Jr. and Law make up for it and sweep the film back from its lull.
Though it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the film, I really did. I had more fun at Sherlock Holmes than I did in Green Lantern, Transformers 3, Captain America, and X-Men combined. So, that’s definitely a compliment, and I’m certainly excited for a sequel. I do hope though, that perhaps Ritchie can fix some of these problems next time around. Again, that’s not at all to say I didn’t like the movie, just that there are still a few tweaks that will benefit the franchise and make for an even better experience. If you love the original you’ll love this one. The comedy is as funny as the first and the action is sequences are breathtaking in a “Matrix” sort of way. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the perfect fix for anyone who needs a laugh and doesn’t need a plot.