Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
An entertaining investigation heavier on brawn than brains
The master of deduction Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.: Due Date) has been dealing with a lot of loss of late. His romance with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams: Midnight in Paris) is untenable. He’s at a stalemate trying to foil the plans of arch nemesis Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris: Mad Men). Worst of all, his best mate and sleuthing sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law: Hugo) is getting married.
Holmes isn’t taking it well.
In response to his stressor, the detective has reached new levels of manic behavior. Subsisting on a diet of cocoa leaves and formaldehyde, Holmes believes he’s finally found the threads to lead him to the dastardly Moriarty. The only problem: Watson is getting married in a few days and doesn’t want to play anymore.
No matter; Holmes is always a man with a plan. So in a manner of a few days he manages to hijack Watson from his honeymoon, pick up a mysterious gypsy (Noomi Rapace in her English debut) and start a trans-European search for proof of Moriarty’s misdeeds.
The plot is ludicrous, and Holmes borders on lunacy, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining.
Why? Elementary my dear readers!
The chemistry between stars Downey and Law is infectious. Their platonic romance is both the greatest asset and the greatest hindrance to the movie. Director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes) has great fun putting his two stars in seemingly romantic scenes for comedy’s sake. When Holmes watches Watson marry, Downey looks like the most morose man on earth. Later, Holmes jumps at the opportunity to abort his friend’s honeymoon and ends the evening lying semi-nude with his best pal. Women have no real roles in the action. Even gypsy Simza is just a means to lead the boys to their next adventure.
The best addition to the cast is Harris, an impressive villain who matches Downey snipe for snipe in their scenes. The only problem with his evil professor is his physicality. It’s hard to believe that slightly puffy Harris would have a chance in a tussle with Iron Man.
Unmistakably it’s a Guy Ritchie production: The violence is stylish, the characters grimy and the jokes lazy. It’s one of those movies you have to enjoy on the surface. Think about it too much, and it will fall to pieces.
The real mystery of the Sherlock Holmes franchise might be how Downey elevates this film through sheer charm and willpower.
Good Action • PG-13 • 129 mins.