Film review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), directed by Guy Ritchie
Two years ago, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson got new faces, and now, they’re back in another Victorian romp. My recollection of the previous film is sketchy to say the least, so if you haven’t seen the previous film, you should be okay to see this one, even though it’s a sequel.
Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), the devious love interest in the previous film, is soon dispatched with, and the focus instead shifts to professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) and the French and German who are trying to start a war with one another.
Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) is trying to combine a lot of clues all over the world, but still fails to prevent the death of a businessman. Meanwhile, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is trying to get ready for his marriage with Mary (Kelly Reilly) – which includes a wild stag night with Sherlock and his brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry).
At the pub/club where the stag night is held, Sherlock comes across a French gypsy, Simza (Noomi Rapace, with an accent more Swedish than French, let’s be honest), whose anarchist brother seems to be implicated in the plot. And so the adventure begins – from gunfights on trains to gunfights in munitions factories and chess games on cliffside castles. Hold on to your hat!
Other notable appearances: Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson (Sherlock’s landlady and/or housekeeper?) and Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade, who really only does a cameo.
Two things struck me while watching this film: 1) The castle on the cliffside is awesome and is giving me ideas. 2) If you don’t particularly like the film, it’s just over two hours worth of Robert Downey Jr in period costume and THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE BY ME. (Or Jude Law, if you prefer, which I don’t.) He also dresses up in various disguises, and gets his top off too. Benedict Cumberbatch might be a better match for what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle originally intended with the character, but Downey Jr is really bringing sexy back. And that’s why any self-respecting RDJ-fancier ought to see this film straight away.
The story itself is full of action and adventure and is entertaining enough, even though it does feel as if come another two years, I’ll be in the same position with it as I am with the 2009 film – I won’t remember what on earth it was about and only have some kind of vague recollection about the characters. Guess we’ll have to wait and see if there’s going to be a third one.
But yeah, I couldn’t help but feel a bit meh at times about this film, it just didn’t really grab me. I don’t think I was fully engrossed in it until near the end, and only for short periods of time with the rest. It’s by no means a bad film, it’s very well acted for instance, but the slow motion fight scenes, à la 300, is starting to feel a bit old hat now. Then there’s the miracle cure that seems a bit too miraculous, and so on, but overall, it’s a fun film. Stephen Fry, while I didn’t really buy that he’d be the brother of Robert Downey Jr (there’s just no physical similarity at all), is brilliant as the eccentric Mycroft.
And as for Sherlock Holmes himself, well … eccentricity must run in the family. Great fun. Still, not sure it deserves even a 4. So, perhaps, 3.7 out of 5 black chess pieces will suffice.