Published Dec 15, 2011How did he see that coming? Well, according to Sherlock Holmes, he sees everything, and thanks to Guy Ritchie, the audience gets to as well.
After a forgettable plot in Ritchie's first Sherlock Holmes attempt, this sequel takes a much-needed turn, pitting Robert Downey Jr.'s version of the English sleuth against his arch nemesis, Professor James Moriarty, played by Jared Harris.
Ritchie's rough and tumble depiction of Holmes ― almost superhero-esque, with the way he handles himself on the street ― meets his intellectual match in Moriarty. The scheming Moriarty is wreaking havoc on international political relationships, hoping to incite a world war that will garner him great profit. Of course, Holmes is tracking his every movement, attempting to pin recent bombings on him.
Holmes isn't alone, of course, as his lovable partner, Dr. John Watson (once again played by Jude Law), joins him. Watson, matured and about to marry, wants to move past his previous exploits with Holmes and start settling down. Unfortunately, he's dragged into the conflict by Moriarty's targeting of the good doctor.
It's Watson and Holmes's relationship ― the back and forth banter, childish head games and in-sync nature of understanding each other ― that makes this film worth watching, but just. Downey and Law have created a magnetic chemistry that sucks the audience in and keeps them there through major lulls when the plot slows to a crawl. During the middle part of this 129-minute behemoth, the story is sidetracked with a great deal of extraneous action and the battle of the minds between our heroes and Moriarty.
Not only does Ritchie include this fatty filler, but he also goes overboard with his "slow 'em down, speed 'em up" technique during intense action scenes. It's nice to see it used a couple of times to emphasize an intricate fight or a superbly clever scheme, but Ritchie bats us over the head again and again with similar shots. Holmes says the fact he sees everything ― before it happens, in slow motion ― is a curse. Well, it's also a curse for the audience.
But, fear not, with the way A Game of Shadows ends, there's a giant opportunity to turn this into a trilogy ― are you really surprised? So Ritchie will likely have one more chance to get this thing right. (Warner)