Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Blu-ray
I am always game for a Guy Ritchie film. I was even a fan of the ridiculously pretentious and flawed Revolver. Style over substance is okay with me. Most of the time. There’s not quite anyone who can find the humor and brutality of the British underworld like him. Mike Leigh is pretty good at the underworld part, but his movies aren’t that funny (except for Happy-Go-Lucky). I was interested in seeing the first Sherlock Holmes movie he directed. Ritchie had directed a few critically panned movies, made a comeback with the awesome RocknRolla and then plunged head first into Hollywood filmmaking, with Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. as his leads. That’s quite a change. Despite a few off-putting moments, I enjoyed it, but for some reason, I wasn’t too excited about the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
I thought it would perhaps be more of the same, and it really is. There’s an added, bittersweet touch to this one as Sherlock is a bit devastated that his bro, Watson, is getting married and that the disappearance of his love interest (played by Rachel McAdams, may hint at something very dire. But in true Sherlock style, he and Watson get one more fantastic adventure before Watson becomes so pussy-whipped, he wouldn’t have time for the great detective.
Sherlock is still witty, frightfully brilliant, and terribly uncouth. His habit of refusing to explain situations to those surrounding him, insisting on complete faith becomes utterly frustrating at times. With the biting brand of humor Downey has patented over the past several years on films like Iron Man, there are generally funny zingers left and right, and yes, Downey dresses in horrible drag in this one. A remember those carefully choreographed fight scenes that we had to watch two times (once when Sherlock was planning them in his head with monotone narration, and once upon execution)? There are more of those.
However, because it really did feel like just more of the same, I didn’t feel a sense of danger, mystery, or tension. This is despite the fact that the investigative team even leaves England for Paris, and eventually on to Germany and Switzerland, all of this on the eve of a great world war. I’ll admit, though, the movie has atmosphere to spare.
The greatest addition to this sequel is two new cast members. First, there’s Noomi Rapace, the girl who makes my testicles jump up inside me because of her ferocious turn as the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (she also plays a pretty badass space traveler in Ridley Scott’s Promethesus). She plays a gypsy who’s involved in too much politicking for her own good, a revolution. It endangers both her, and her family. Of course, Sherlock adds her to the list those he risks his life to protect. There is a scene where Holmes and Watson visits the gypsy camp. It’s a fine scene its own right, but it will remind you, and make you long for the brilliance of the pikies in Snatch.
Second, is the wonderful addition of the amazing Jared Harris as the utterly evil Professor Moriarty. Moriarty may perhaps be Sherlock’s intellectual equal. In fact, he very well may be his superior, as it turns out that Holmes may need to get a little help from his friends to stop a plan filled with so much gravitas, it seems a bit ridiculous. But Harris makes Mark Strong’s turn as the first Sherlock villain pale in comparison.
In what is the film’s most ridiculous moment, Moriarty and Sherlock , at the very climax of the film, take a break to play a game of chess, a true match of intellectual giants. In this moment, Ritchie manages two things at once. Tension is maintained at a more or less decent level, but at the same time, it just all seems a bit silly. There is a pending world war to think about, after all.
These complaints may be petty. I’ll admit there is a lot of mindless entertainment throughout the film. Just don’t expect anything more than a modest sequel.
Warner Brothers provided BFR with a Blu-ray for this review.