Friday, November 23, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Directed by Guy Ritchie.
2011. Rated PG-13, 129 minutes.
Jared Harris
Stephen Fry
Geraldine James
Paul Anderson
Kelly Reilly

As is always the case, we find Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) embroiled in the biggest case of his career. He’s matching wits with Professor James Moriarty (Harris) who appears to have connections to assassinations around the globe. However, his sanity seems to be waning when his right hand man Watson (Law) finds him in quite a disheveled state. After getting wind of what Holmes is up to, Watson makes clear that he will not help on this one because he’s getting married and leaving for his honeymoon tomorrow. Since a Sherlock Holmes adventure is nothing without Watson, it’s inevitable that our hero convinces his sidekick to tag along “just this once.”

With regards to the main plot, solving the case, A Game of Shadows works very well. It’s less convoluted and without the notions of supernatural occurrences of its predecessor. We get a bad guy who is an intellectual match for our hero. The two have some enjoyable back-and-forths. We also get some well-presented action sequences. Director Guy Ritchie doesn’t deviate from the visual style of the orginal, which he also helmed, and it pays off. The one carry over that doesn’t work quite as well is Sherlock’s ability to completely predict a momentarily upcoming situation. It’s okay for the most part but grows tired. The way Ritchie tries to inject life back into it, doesn’t actually help: it becomes a telepathic conversation between Holmes and his adversary.

The story surrounding the conflict is where AGoS falters. It masks its flaws with comedy that’s actually pretty well done. Though often settling on slapstick and cranking the homoerotic factor to 11, it’s fun and keeps things moving along. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work both aspects well showcasing wonderful chemistry throughout. While Downey has the flashier role, Law is perfect straight man. The pun is intended because I can crack homoerotic jokes, too. The problem lies within the part of the tale it brings up as rather prominent then abruptly drops. Okay, I didn’t really how punny that sentence was until I was actually typing it out. Sorry. Let’s move on.

Remember what I said about Sherlock’s sanity? Well, we never follow that thread. Doing so has the potential to provide the franchise with serious depth. However, the operative word is “serious.” Probably in order to keep ticket revenue fairly deep into nine digit territory, Guy Ritchie seems dead set against doing anything thought provoking. Whimsy, fisticuffs and chases rule the Sherlock Holmes universe. If that is indeed the case, the movie would’ve been better off not even mentioning that our hero might be a little off.

Honestly, I may be nit-picking a bit. Then again, that’s what you’re here for. Still, let’s not forget AGoS is a fun ride. As mentioned, Downey and Law are both great. Meanwhile, the action and humor makes the time go by pretty quickly. If you enjoyed the first movie, I see no reason you shouldn’t like this one. I will say it’s just a shade below its predecessor on quality. By the way, fans of the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo get a nice treat seeing Noomi Rapace as our damsel in distress. It’s a role that requires very little of her immense talent, but I suspect it pays a lot better.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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