(Rating: 12A, 129 mins) Written by Zen Terrelonge
Starring – Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Rachel McAdams.
The game is afoot.
It’s 1891 and the film opens with the magnificently moustached sidekick of Sherlock Holmes, Dr John Watson (Law) recording his memoirs. Europe has experienced a series of bombings and the continentals are frantic.
It isn’t long until Holmes’ love interest Irene (McAdams) makes an appearance, closely followed by the great detective himself (Downey Jr) and Holmes in turn, is being tailed by some shady types.
This provides a prime opportunity to demonstrate his analytical skills and fighting prowess in the slow-mo style seen in first outing back in 2009. It turns out the process has had a few tweaks to enhance the experience, presumably on the back of a bigger budget.
Rolling on from the first film, Holmes has been tracking Irene’s employer, the mysterious and murderous Professor James Moriarty (Harris). Though Holmes and the Prof have never made official contact in person, they are both dogging each others steps with intense vigour.
The first film introduced Moriarty as nothing more than a silhouette, thus this film is very much all about his unveiling and his power and cunning are both swiftly demonstrated.
Gypsy girl, Simza (Rapace), finds herself embroiled into the game of cat and mouse between Holmes and Moriarty following the disappearance of her brother, which leads the erratic detective to enlist her help.
Wingman Watson also finds himself unwillingly dragged into the mix, despite claiming he wants a quite life with his new wife, Mary.
I was thoroughly excited about the release of the film, but it didn’t meet my expectations for a number of reasons.
The first film had such a wonderful visual and characterisation of ye olde London, it seemed to be a big missing piece of the puzzle with much of the film taking place overseas.
Additionally, the previous film caught the Holmes and Watson camaraderie perfectly but Shadows seems to have overcooked it too much, with banter delivered in oversized dollops.
Moriarty did seem a bit lacklustre initially, but he does build up to great things, and the way both he and Holmes size each other up with their minds is brilliant. Indeed this brings a round of applause to their counterparts Harris and Downey Jr, who connected together dynamically.
All in all, worth a watch but doesn’t outshine the first.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is available on Blu-ray and DVD now.