By Caitlyn Collins | December 16, 2011
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney (based on the characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Rachel McAdams, Kelly Reilly, Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Geraldine James
I have not read anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, meaning I have no idea what the “real” Sherlock Holmes is like. I do know that director Guy Ritchie presented Sherlock Holmes in a completely different light than I’ve ever seen him represented with his 2009 film, Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie continues with his drug-addled, drunken, brawling version of Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) with his latest, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
In typical Ritchie fashion, the first fight sequence (and they really are sequences as Holmes has a predilection for first methodically calculating his moves and then executing them) occurs within the first five minutes of the film. I tend to like Guy Ritchie’s films despite their hyper-masculinity, most often displayed in the form of sex, drugs and violence. That said, I can’t help but feel Ritchie’s style, particularly the abundance of slow-motion fighting, should be toned down for a character such as Holmes who is known most commonly for his intellectual rather than physical prowess.
With Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Holmes meets his greatest adversary, hinted at with the ending of the 2009 film. Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) is a well-respected professor, author and physician. He also happens to have a burning desire to take over the world. The film is a grandiose cat and mouse chase between the two brilliant minds.
Dr. Watson is set to marry his fiancée, Mary (Kelly Reilly). Holmes, too distracted to throw Watson a proper stag night, takes him to the saloon where Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace) works as a tarot reader. Holmes has successfully intercepted a letter addressed to Madam Simza from his love interest/rival Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) and believes the letter holds key clues that will enlighten him as to Moriarty’s devious plans.
After successfully delivering Watson to his wedding, even if a bit battered and bruised, Holmes leaves to continue his research on Moriarty. Watson and Mary are left to board a train to Brighton where they will spend a glorious week Holmes-free. But as always, Holmes is never far away. After briefly meeting with Moriarty, Holmes realizes Watson and Mary are in danger simply by association. Holmes disguises himself in order to board the train. And let me say, that while I find Robert Downey Jr. to be an attractive man, he does not look good in drag. Holmes shoves Mary off the train, I’m sure with a great deal of satisfaction, in order to keep her out of harm’s way, where she’s greeted by a boat steered by Holmes’ brother, Mycroft (Stephen Fry). Fry’s role is small, but hilarious, with his delightful dead-pan delivery.
With Mary safe, Holmes and Watson take the train to Switzerland to an international meeting of ambassadors and dignitaries. Here Moriarty’s plan slowly unfolds. Jared Harris is well cast for the role of Moriarty, playing the calm, collected professor quite well, while effectively showing the rage Moriarty feels just below the surface of his façade.
The plot of Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows moves a bit slow at times despite the plethora of explosions, fights, bullets, and chasing, leaving me wondering if Ritchie might be more more interested in the violence than on the actual plot. Regardless, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows is an entertaining addition to the new series.