Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry with Rachel McAdams
The much awaited sequel to the 2009 flick Sherlock Holmes hits the screen, once again giving to us Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, the most famous fictional detective world over and his faithful sidekick, the war-wounded Dr John Watson, brought to life by Jude Law. This edition follows on from where the previous movie ended, i.e. by bringing into foray the criminal mastermind of Professor James Moriarty, enacted craftily by Jared Harris.
The background is shown to be teeming with tensions between, as Sherlock’s elder brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) puts it diplomatically “two countries who shall not be named but who speak the languages French and German.” Into this political upheaval steps Professor Moriarty who simply wants to make money out of creating firstly the demand and following it with the supply of arms and machinery to the alliance groups between which a war seems inevitable. The plot unwinds through the damp, morbid looking London streets to a brilliantly lit Paris onto the drop-dead beautiful sceneries of Switzerland, as Holmes and his gang must match their wits against an equally formidable opponent, Professor Moriarty in a bid to foil his plans to spark off a world war for pure monetary gains.
Before we comment further on this film, we must acknowledge and raise the top of our hats (if wearing one) to the pure, unadulterated visual appeal of this movie. Guy Ritchie, literally, goes all guns ablaze and firing on all cylinders, from the word go. The much-loved fight sequences from the previous instalment in this series are but enhanced here. The pre-planned punches-jabs-kicks salvo-ed with panache by RDJ here, are shot in further slow motion, with crystal clear HD effects that are oh-so-appealing to the eye. The brawl sequences too are smartly executed and one cannot help but envy the talents of such a man as Sherlock is shown to be. Add to this his foresight, his acute sense of timing and Robert Downey Jr.’s incorrigible sardonic wit; you have in his embodiment of Holmes a very lovable character. Jude Law also is found here in his element and assiduously walks along with RDJ as a highly loyal sidekick.
Rachel McAdams as the enchanting Irene Adler gets but a cameo in this edition, but one may further be disappointed with Noomi Rapace, the female partner-in-adventure to the dynamic duo of Holmes and Watson. Jared Harris as James Moriarty seems a tad less fearsome than he is made out to be in the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, especially if one considers that Brad Pitt was rumoured to be playing the role of Holmes’s nemesis. Stephen Fry, in what little role has been allotted to him, makes you grin if not laugh with his enactment of the laidback elder brother Mycroft Holmes, enjoying his undisclosed job in the foreign ministry of Britain, walking around naked in his villa at the top of one or the other mountain in the Swiss region.
The movie might seem a tad stretched through the first half, but be not mistaken, movie-goer! The second half more than makes up for the gradual build-up in the preceding one hour. The absolutely mesmerising train fight sets the tone for all the other scenes brimming with action that unravel in the second half; as the plot thickens, the guns get bigger and the games of shadow truly begins.
However, there are a few concerns one might be bothered about. Guy Ritchie in his fervour seems to have reinvented the age-old character of Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street a bit too much for the liking of one who has religiously read all the stories of Sir Arthur. The agitated, nicotine smoking, statesman-like figure, who had dazzling powers of deduction and the incredible capability to coherently organise his findings into solutions for the most baffling of cases, is now transformed into a trigger-happy, brawny figure with much more developed sense of humour than was allowed to him by his creator. Perhaps a handful of this and a handful of that might have led to a better result, more mixed, more evolved albeit not totally different, Sherlock Holmes.
But overall, this movie is certainly one that can give your new year a jump start and is one which will give literal meaning to the phrase “new year bash”, what with all the bashing up of bombers, snipers, criminal masterminds and un-noted others.
So watch it, definitely maybe. For the action, for Robert Downey Jr., for Sherlock Holmes – the much-adored sleuth and for the superbly thrilling climax that the movie offers to you.
And that’s, to quote the last words of the movie which indeed seem to promise a third instalment in this franchise, “The End?”