Director Guy Ritchie has seemingly pulled-off the impossible, by delivering two good films back-to-back. In fact his sequel to Sherlock Holmes (in general) is a far more confident piece, both in terms of its performances and humour.
We join Holmes (Robert Downey) as he’s following a spate of anarchist bombings across Europe. The brilliant but rather skittish detective inadvertently comes across a mysterious letter, which leads him to a gypsy (Noomi Rapace) and into the lair of his arch nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). But where is Watson (Jude Law) in all of this? Well, he’s busy trying to get married…
Ritchie’s film is at its strongest when Holmes and Watson are on screen bickering, this was evident in the first film and clearly the director understands the importance of his duo’s chemistry. This is fairly evident because all of the female characters from the previous film are ‘dealt-with’ fairly briskly (one way or another). Rapace’s gypsy is brought along for the ride, but she never falls into the category of love interest, like the Rachel McAdams character (from the previous film). No, this is very much about the special ‘bond’ between Holmes and Watson, with neither man wanting to admit their ‘feelings’ for the other, which makes for some very amusing banter. The chemistry between Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law is undeniable.
There are one or two negatives though; characters often take great care to emphasise the importance of certain objects, which can be a little too distracting. Watch out for a change of clothes, an underwater breathing device and Holmes’ wedding present to Watson. Then there’s Ritchie’s trademark use of slow-motion, which is as pointless and hideous as ever. While the action sequences worked perfectly well, the constant use of slow-motion became rather tiresome, thus detracting from my overall enjoyment of them. This editorial preference is also used to illustrate Holmes’, ‘detective vision’, where Holmes pieces together what happens prior to ‘its’ occurrence, which means we get to see certain sequences twice, which is dull at best. I had hoped that this ‘innovation’ from the first film, would have been ditched, but sadly not.
However, all grumbles aside if Ritchie continues to make films of this ilk, I might just be able to forgive him for all those awful cockney geezer films we’ve had to endure since Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is an entertaining film, filled with a surprising amount of comedy which will not disappoint.