Review: Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows

Nobody pretended that producer Joel Silver and director Guy Ritchie's 2009 incarnation was the smartest Sherlock around – but it went over well enough. It was a proudly philistine interpretation but done with enough dash to win people over.

After a run of flops in the pair's careers, expectations were so low that, if they'd successfully tied their laces, the shock might have been enough to earn them an Oscar nomination.

The sequel is more of the same but adds in Moriarty (Jared Harris) and Mycroft (Stephen Fry). So that's three genius intellects the story has to contain and it's too many.

The film is basically a big dumb, generic blockbuster where, occasionally, everything will stop for them to do the clever deduction bits. It's still preferable to a big dumb, generic blockbuster without clever bits. But it does get a bit tiresome being consistently told how incredibly clever everybody is when a lot of the time their actions are barely more elevated than those in a Vin Diesel movie.

Harris and Fry make for marvellous additions (the former wouldn't look out of place in a proper Holmes movie), though I don't really buy Robert Downey Jr's Holmes, who seems to be primarily inspired by the paycheques Johnny Depp takes home for the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies.

Jude Law, however, is an excellent Watson. Watching him here, you despair that he's wasted so much of his career trying to be a serious actor when he could be such a natural star.

Holmes has been a remarkable comeback for Ritchie. These films could have been entrusted to a Brett, a McG or any one of the other Mini-Bays in Hollywood. But Ritchie got it and, at times, you can see why. He's superficial but not as blatantly so as the others.

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Take an early confrontation in which Holmes has to face down four assailants. As the score cranks out a parody of a Morricone Spaghetti western score, Ritchie gets to work dazzling us with close-ups, slow motion and frenzied action – all cut together in a giddying montage.

But then it's over and you feel like you missed the whole thing. For all its good points, much of the film is like that: all distraction and no action. It's Find the Lady school of film-making.


Director: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry

Length: 127 mins