Directed by Guy Ritchie. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry.
After the rip-roaringly funny and delightfully fun romp that was the first Sherlock Holmes by director Guy Ritchie, we have an over-bloated, tiresome and seriously ridiculous adaptation/interpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s titular detective. Doyle must be turning in his grave.
I can’t remember the plot of the first one but I do remember having a jolly good time watching it. Sure it wasn’t how we all have been used to seeing the detective that stays at 221B Baker Street but then who in their right mind would think of Robert Downey Jr for the part. Neither Ritchie nor Downey Jr are in their right mind so it was perfect for them to give the somewhat staid and uptight detective extraordinaire a bit of a twist. Turning him into an action hero with humour and a dash of pink, what with his obsession with partner-in-solving-crime Dr Watson (Jude Law). Man love or gay? Well A Game of Shadows clears up the air as Holmes takes a step out of his closet in some urban disguises.
Ritchie has taken one of the infamous villains from the Holmes’ universe, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) and given Holmes his ultimate ‘arch-nemesis’ to deal with. But it would seem that Holmes is more preoccupied with Watson’s new marriage to Mary (Kelly Reilly) and how that will come between the two’s ‘friendship’ and sleuthing. Holmes throws Mrs Watson from a moving train, dances with Dr Watson at a diplomatic ball and dresses in drag. He’s even called ‘Shirley’ by his brother Mycroft Holmes, played humorously by the phenomenal Stephen Fry. So have the filmmakers and Downey determined that Sherlock Holmes is indeed gay?
In order to stop Moriarty from starting a World War, Holmes must put aside his reverence for the villain’s keen intellect and his own insecurities about losing Dr Watson and soon the game is afoot. But where it takes us is really a mystery for the audience as incoherent clues and plots crop up and you’re expected to just go along for the ride merrily enjoying the witty banter between Downey Jr and Law. But alas, that too gets tedious and monotonous. The action is not so great either. Just some self-indulging slo-mo shots that Ritchie seems to like that add little to the overall effect of the film other than show us some of his gimmickry.
Noomi Rapace as the gypsy girl assisting the duo has little to do and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Holmes’s ‘love interest’ is disposed off early on in the film (or is she?). Jared Harris as the Professor is suitably maniacal and steely, perhaps the only actor in the film taking his part seriously. For let me say, Downey Jr has absolutely massacred any trace of the Holmes from the story books. There’s no deductive reasoning, no real cracking the mystery. Just a lot of hocus-pocus and shadows really. Credit to Jude Law for going along with this ridiculous interpretation. Not that it is wrong that Sherlock Holmes be gay, far from it. What this film does if he is, is trivialise it, make fun of it and ultimately create a huge weakness and gaping hole that sidelines the actual plot of the film. Which in this movie may actually be the goal considering the slim storyline. The background score by Hans Zimmer is quite nice though.