This sequel has a lot of expectations to live up to. The first Guy Ritchie directed Sherlock Holmes amassed over $524 million at the worldwide box office and remains in the Top 100 grossing films of all time.
As you’d hope, in Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows the original bromance is back with a vengeance! Guy Ritchie has delivered once again (after a few turkeys mind!), as the on-screen chemistry between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jnr. is superb – reminiscent of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The supporting cast is also tremendous in their roles, although some of the parts are just too small. Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade is most notably missing screen time – blink and you’ll miss him – as is the excellent Geraldine James as the long-suffering Mrs Hudson (though I can’t help but think of her as one of the prostitutes from Band Of Gold!).
The plot follows on from the first film, where Holmes (Downey) feels something is afoot and has discovered a web of death and destruction, realising his nemesis Moriarty (played menacingly by Jared Harris) is at the very heart of it. This result in a wonderful romp across pre-war-torn Europe, where Holmes, Watson and the gypsy Sim (Noomi Rapace) try to foil Moriarty’s dastardly deeds.
This is obviously a labour of love for all concerned. The script, cinematography, editing, acting and music (Hans Zimmerman) all fuse together perfectly. The main action set pieces are excellent, including a train journey where Holmes dresses as a woman to help protect Watson and his new wife (Kelly Reilly).This is enjoyable partly due to the disdain Holmes feels towards this woman, as it’s evident he feels she has spoiled his relationship/partnership with Watson (it’s oddly reminiscent of the contempt Family Guy characters feel towards Meg). A pony trek across snow-covered Europe with Holmes is hilarious, and the final scenes in Switzerland, where the protagonist and antagonist go head to head over a game of chess, are extremely exciting.
Guy Ritchie also introduces us to the character of Mycroft (Stephen Fry), who is Holmes’ smarter brother and relishes calling Sherlock ‘Shirley’. Ritchie has given us many hunks (gay icons) over the years in his catalogue of films – Tom Hardy, Gerard Butler, Brad Pitt, Jason Statham and…err…Vinnie Jones – but now he has topped the lot by giving us a very naked scene-stealing Stephen Fry. What more could you ask for?
Ritchie has given us a perfect, contemporary Holmes in the guise of Downey Jnr, which will be recognised as one of the great portrayals of this literary character, alongside Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett. However Holmes would be nothing without his long-suffering partner, played splendidly by Law.
The only part of the film I was disappointed with was Noomi Rapace’s performance as the gypsy Sim. I had high expectations of her as I had been a huge fan of the original Scandinavian Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film series and as a result I expected so much more from her. She wanders through the film looking somewhat lost. With the chemistry between Law and Downey Jr., her character almost seems irrelevant as she gets acted off the screen.
Overall Verdict: A very entertaining and energetic action film. It is evident that Guy Ritchie has matured as a director, with the relationships between all the characters very believable and the chemistry electric.
Reviewer: Stephen Sclater