Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
by Wilson Morales

In the follow-up to 2009’s ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law return to reprise their roles as the sleuth detective Sherlock Holmes and his most trusted associate Dr. Watson (played by Law). While the first film seemed like the typical paint-by-numbers introduction directed by Guy Richie, the sequel offers a much rewarded and much detailed storyline that will engaged audience with intrigue and pleasure.

While ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ at times is too rich in details, one can’t escape the production design and performances given by the two leads. Both are at their wittiest and seem very comfortable in the roles that many have played on the big and small screen.

When we last saw Sherlock Holmes, he was solving another crime while saving a damsel in distress. At the same time, audiences were getting ready for his inevitable showdown with his arch-rival, Prof. James Moriarty (unseen in the first film). Based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, Moriarty has always been a thorn to Holmes. He’s the one guy he could never catch.

In this film, we have that same damsel (reprised by Rachel McAdams) Holmes saved and apparently cares for. The two have been playing a cat-and-mouse game of lust, with each on the opposite side of the law. When Holmes uncovers Moriarty’s (now played by Jared Harris) plot to start a war between France and German, he enlists the help of Watson while Watson is on his honeymoon with Mary Morstan (played by Kelly Reilly).

As the two work around the world to stop and catch Moriarty, they come upon and are aided in their travels by a Gypsy name Sim (played by Noomi Rapace, known for her breakthrough role in the Swedish film, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and its sequels). Also helping the trio is the appearance of Holmes’ brother Mycroft (played by amusing Stephen Fry). Apparently, his nickname for Holmes is ‘Sherly.’

As Holmes and his group try hard to catch Moriarty, the evildoer always seems to be a step ahead of them and has laid out careful plans to stop Holmes in his tracks. It’s up to Holmes to outwit his rival and save the day before all is lost, including his one life.

In this game of chess between Holmes and Moriarty, Richie has put together a well crafted film. Working with Downey Jr.’s charm adds to the film, as Holmes is not only clever in his work, but finds time to be amusing to all around him. Downey’s on cruise control as if he was told to apply some of Tony Starks’ personality in Holmes. What also works in the film is the gorgeous production design and cinematography by Sarah Greenwood and Philippe Rousselot respectively. Everything from the houses, the clothing, and the action sequences look very stylish. Richie has been invoking the slow motion techniques in his previous films, so audiences need not quibble about those shots.

As for the women, with the exception of Rapace, who does hold her own with the two leads in her first English-speaking role, the others are merely there for plot devices. Surely, the producers could have done more with McAdams than have her come back for a cameo appearance and the same can said for Reilly. She could have been more effectively than appearing in bits. While the story is filthy rich in details, at times one can get lost with the numerous red herrings the story provides. In the end, what you get with ‘A Game of Shadows’ is a story that never runs out of steam and a pleasurable evening’s entertainment.

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