Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law team up once more for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
And just like Watson’s prenuptial celebrations, it’s a re-treaded first half of best pal shenanigans that spends too long reworking story and character dynamics already told, before a frantic cross Europe escapade to save the world.
Downey Jnr and Law’s best pal interplay works a treat once more, which still leaves what is a stumbling launch, captivating and funny, reproducing enough of the successful playful antics of 2009’s original.
Holmes’ latest instalment sees Downey Jnr nonchalantly play the unhinged genius with even greater charisma, smarts and dishevelled disguising, all in equal measure, as his methods and theorising feed even deeper addictive personality traits. Embalming fluid is now Sherlock’s preferred tipple.
With Watson’s marriage only a day away and a stag party to plan, the struggling Holmes’ machine like brain is distracted by the unfolding master plan of nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), a shadowy game of Europe wide war mongering that will guarantee world domination.
Game of Shadows goes much the way of before, with greater attention given to the Holmes and Watson “friendship” which is the character dynamic that glues the piece together and more so now with Holmes’ continued reluctant acceptance of Watson’s impending coupling.
While no doubt adding to the charming bromance, the whole thread of Holmes’ issues with letting his pal go has been well covered, now unnecessarily hindering pinpointed story progression when coupled with a slightly convoluted and unclear plot that takes in Noomi Rapace’s Gypsy activist on the way, to be then wasted after an encouraging entry for the new female lead.
Thankfully the addition of Jared Harris, brilliant as Moriarty, creates much needed mystery and is a truly fantastic take on one of the all-time ultimate villains who convincingly equals Holmes’ genius and combat skills, with no small measure of serene menace.
Slow-mo, pre-visualised fights, telling of Holmes’ “curse” of superior intellect and foresight feature heavily again, becoming repetitive quickly, but Director Guy Richie just manages to freshen it up in time with a two-way Holmes vs. Moriarty face off, just before the trick becomes stale.
Holmes’ flashbacks surmise like before as he proudly details his thought process in case solving, but it’s more Colombo than Sherlock now. Richie will need to find new tricks to tantalise if we are to see more.
With some deft and highly technical set pieces, there is no doubting Ritchie’s proficiency in stylised action direction, with a brilliant shifting, zooming and splintering forest bombardment highlighting his obvious flair.
Game of Shadows doesn’t try to fix what isn’t broken, but just fails to provide any new clues on how to make the big screen adaptation of Holmes truly epic.
While entertaining and at times spectacular, and with a third instalment more than likely, Holmes and co’ may just need to lay off the formaldehyde before we all really lose the plot.