Dec 21 2011 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
SHERLOCK Holmes: A Game of Shadows sees the return of Robert Downey Jr. as the titular detective and Jude Law as trusty sidekick Dr Watson.
The pair have grown apart as Watson prepares for marriage but come together again to try and outwit adversary Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).
Guy Ritchie rather surprised us all two years ago with his terrific take on 221B Baker Street’s famous resident.
Focussing on a Holmes that was as much a brawler as a great mind and a ‘bromance’ between his two leads, Ritchie’s first movie resonated with critics and audiences alike.
Sequel A Game of Shadows is every bit as good and adds more scope and a superior villain.
It doesn’t shift too much from the first film’s formula but this time we leave London as a Bond-like globetrotting adventure takes in France, Germany and Switzerland.
The dynamic between Downey Jr. and Law continues from where it left off and the pair are riotously good fun.
Those who jumped on a gay subtext in the first movie won’t have their minds changed by an increase in flirtatious behaviour, culminating in Holmes asking Watson to lie with him and join him for a dance.
The film’s aesthetic remains the same as the original. Ritchie’s sets look enormous, with the director using low and high angle wide establishing shots for his locations, and the time period is impressively recreated.
Ritchie sets his stall out early with a market place brawl that repeats the first film’s use of ear-ringing sounds, close-ups and Sherlock’s slo-mo dissection of his enemies’ physical weaknesses.
Moriarty’s restaurant-emptying introduction is a deliciously devilish moment and Harris plays an intelligent villain with evil coursing through his veins without any histrionics.
Stephen Fry is a lot of fun as Holmes’ brother Mycroft but original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Rapace (Simza) is rather wasted and underused.
There’s two explosions in the first 10 minutes but don’t worry, this isn’t another Michael Bay-style effects and big bangs over story and emotion blockbuster.
As well as the global locales and chemistry between leads, Michele and Kieran Mulroney’s script allows Moriarty to get under Holmes’ skin in several Hannibal Lector/Clarice Starling-style electrifying face-offs and the former’s threats to the lives of those Holmes holds dear bring a new edge to the detective’s efforts to bring him down.
That’s not to say the action isn’t of a high standard too; far from it.
A train set-piece involves fun and frolics (Holmes dressed as a woman) and rapid gunfire and a stunning daring forest escape is almost like a trenches of war sequence.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is one of 2011’s best blockbusters and only small flaws (Rapace’s role, a slightly slow first half-hour) prevent it from reaching top drawer status.
This is one mystery you won’t regret getting wrapped up in.
Rating - 8 out of 10.