Robert Downey Jr. returns for another fun romp as the Great Detective
Sherlock Holmes, it seems, is always one step ahead of the rest.
He can pick out the smallest details, plot an enemy’s destruction, and foresee the outcome of a fistfight before it’s even begun. “It’s a curse,” as he says, but also one of the greatest gifts known to Victorian-era investigation.
In “Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows,” the title sleuth (Robert Downey Jr.) pits his prodigious powers of observation against James Moriarty (Jared Harris), a criminal mastermind masquerading as a college professor. Together with his faithful sidekick, Dr. James Watson (Jude Law) and his hammy older brother, Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry), Sherlock Holmes must confront one of the greatest threats the world has ever known.
“A Game of Shadows” takes place in 1891, a time of terror and confusion for much of Europe.
Authorities believe that terrorists are responsible for a series of mysterious bombings rocking the continent. Holmes, however, suspects a single man is behind the madness: Moriarty.
Known alternately as the Napoleon of Crime and the Devil, Moriarty is Holmes’s equal in every way, from raw intellect to raw physicality. He first targets Holmes’s former lover, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), then turns his attention to a Gypsy fortuneteller (Noomi Rapace) with a missing brother.
Holmes must untangle Moriarty’s murderous plot while facing a crisis of his own. His best friend, Watson, is finally tying the knot with the long-suffering Mary (Kelly Reilly), and this confirmed bachelor has no intention to let him go quietly.
Sherlock’s most explosive onscreen outing to date, “A Game of Shadows” finds the Great Detective battling a Cossack giant in an elaborate labyrinth, engaging in high-speed hijinks aboard a moving train, and dodging bullets at a German munitions factory. Spectacular set pieces and rip-roaring action sequences — set to Hans Zimmer’s zippy score — make this sequel just as fun as the first, although it suffers a bit in the plot and villain departments.
The series’s greatest strength remains the sparkling chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, who seem so comfortable onscreen you’d swear they’d known each other for decades.Their abilities complement each other nicely, too — Holmes with his brains and bare-knuckle boxing, Watson with his military training and expert sharpshooting.
Noomi Rapace, best known as the star of Sweden’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series, makes a capable third wheel as the fiery Gypsy, Sim. Equally at home tossing knives or swigging whiskey straight from the bottle, she’s a significant step up from the briefly glimpsed Irene Adler, played blandly by Rachel McAdams.
As Holmes’ main nemesis, “Mad Men” standout Jared Harris is the patient spider at the center of a very large web. Unfortunately, his menace can’t compare to that Mark Strong, that hook-nosed Mephistopheles who made such dramatic hash of 2009′s “Sherlock Holmes.”
Harris, in contrast, is more a slow burn than a full-out conflagration.
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” suffers at times from lazy plotting and a script that sometimes values style over substance and silliness over smarts. (Although I could have done without Stephen Fry’s nude scene, I must admit that Holmes’s ridiculous disguises make for a great running gag.)
It’s a loud, lively and bombastic movie, directed by one of the masters of the modern action flick, Guy Ritchie.
It’s also, like its predecessor, one hell of a fun ride.
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” image courtesy of MovieWeb.
No related posts.