Guy Ritchie digs deep into his trusted bag of tricks and turns his patented stylised action filmmaking up to maximum wattage in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
It wasn’t that long ago that Ritchie’s career was in a downward spiral after one questionable film after another, so it’s no surprise he is opting for the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” rule with …Game of Shadows.
And who can blame him? The first Sherlock Holmes was a successful reboot of an iconic brand, with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s having a hoot of a time as Holmes and his hetero (?) life-mate Watson.
Yet …Game of Shadows almost becomes too much Ritchie to handle. Too much slow motion fight sequences. Too much zoom in, zoom out rapid-fire editing techniques. Too much testosterone filled conflict. Fortunately, Ritchie still manages to create an entertaining film in spite of his excessive ways.
…Game of Shadows continues from the first film (worth watching to get a sense of story and style) with eccentric sleuth Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) on the trail of devious terrorist Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), while dealing with the impending marriage of his partner Holmes (Jude Law) to sweet natured governess Mary (Kelly Reilly).
Once again the easy going chemistry between Downey Jr. and Law is the highlight of …Game of Shadows, with Law injecting the right amount of no-nonsense attitude which stops Downey’s at time rambling (yet never the less entertaining) performance from going off the rails.
Yet outside Jared Harris’ brilliantly sinister turns as the diabolical Moriarty, Downey and Law are an island onto themselves with supporting turns not as strong in this sequel. Noomi Rapace is wasted in her first post …Dragon Tattoo fame role and Stephen Fry is irritably smarmy in a distracting turn as Holmes’ older brother Mycroft.
With the supporting personal lacking and a screenplay filled with confusing plot points and shambolic character motivations, Ritchie does what he does best: distract us with his over indulgent use of action and style. Guns are bigger, explosions are louder, more bones are broken and it’s all structured with manic pacing and mechanical gaudiness.
But Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is fun. Overblown and overstuffed, yet fun. Hopefully in the inevitable third entry Ritchie will allow some room to breathe.