In 2009 director Guy Ritchie and actor Robert Downey Jr brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary private investigator Sherlock Holmes to the big screen. After the success of the film, Holmes and Watson (Jude Law) are back to take on Prof Moriarty (Jared Harris) in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
The story takes place about a year after the first film with Watson set to wed Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) and Holmes investigating various bomb blasts and assassinations. Holmes sees a common thread with the crimes in the form of Prof James Moriarty, criminal mastermind and Holmes’ intellectual equal. Sherlock’s continued investigations lead he and Watson to France, Germany, and Switzerland to try and foil Moriarty’s plan, a plan that could end with France and Germany going to war. It’s an entertaining and simple enough plot but for some reason gets unnecessarily convoluted at times.
Like the first film, A Game of Shadows play much like a 19th century buddy cop film. Downey and Law have tremendous chemistry, so much so that at times Holmes and Watson seem like an old married couple. Jared Harris gives a great performance as Moriarty. While having an eerily cool demeanor you still feel his malevolence. He is the perfect foil to Downey’s manic Holmes. The scenes with Downey and Harris are some of the best in the film culminating with the most intense game of chess ever. Not much is there for two of the three leading ladies. If you blink, you’ll miss Rachel McAdams and Kelly Reilly is quite literally a throwaway. Noomi Rapace has more to do than the other two in her first English speaking role but what she does is act little more as a guide for Holmes and Watson.
Guy Ritchie’s action oriented style is back giving us quickly cut action in one hand and super slow motion in the other. One of the visual highlights of the movie is a chase scene in a forest. Ritchie’s use of slow motion in this scene is reminiscent of action panels in comics.
Bottom line: those that enjoyed the first film will enjoy the second. Sherlock Holmes purists should probably stay away. Those new to the series looking for a fun action-adventure should check out Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.