Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

DIRECTED BY: Guy Ritchie
WRITTEN BY: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Noomi Rapace.
RATING: 2 stars

I really like Robert Downey Jr. He has so much charm and appeal, you would think he would be an ideal dinner guest. I also really like Guy Ritchie as a director. He has a specific style that works in films, like Snatch, and he makes typical fight sequences so much more exciting to watch. Unfortunately, my adulation of Downey Jr and Ritchie does not extend to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I don't know what happened with this film, it had so much potential, but in the end, not much happened at all. There were several climaxes that became anti-climaxes and I wound up looking at my watch a few times and thinking, "Is it going to end soon?" That's not what you want from a film.

In a sequel to the 2009 film, Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr) returns for what is not exactly an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, The Final Problem, but certainly has some elements of it. After some suspicious bombings around Europe, Holmes starts to investigate his arch enemy Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). It seems that with the help of an anarchist group, Moriarty wants to cause a European war. He is also buying some weapon manufacturing companies. Holmes and Dr Watson (Jude Law) team up with Holmes's brother, Mycroft (Stephen Fry), and Sim (Noomi Rapace), a Gypsy fortune teller, to stop Moriarty.

There's a lot happening in this film and yet nothing really happens at all. Ritchie does his best to add some spice by using his distinctive slow-motion shots during action sequences. The slow-motion is used to show audiences what Holmes plans to do in a fight and then we see the action unfold at a quicker pace. This is done a few times throughout the film, but none in a more effective way than in the confronting scene between Holmes and Moriarty, when both men plot the steps of their battle, including their moves and expected counter-moves, in their minds before beginning the struggle. The slow-motion technique is also used in a chase scene in a forest where bullets are seen hitting trees and only just missing Holmes and his crew. It's exciting to watch.

Unfortunately, that's where my praise ends. Although there are a few laughs in this film, there aren’t enough. The chemistry between Downey Jr and Law is minimal, and the female cast do nothing to add any life to the characterisations. At least Fry is entertaining, but even he doesn't quite fulfil expectations.

The first Sherlock Holmes film was average. Unfortunately, A Game of Shadows is below average. Apparently there are plans for a third instalment if this film is successful. Let's hope not. I would rather re-watch Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang for my Downey Jr fix.