Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


The trouble with most sequels is that whilst their predecessors have to gain the audiences support the follow up generally relies on the fact there is a ready-made audience who were so impressed by the first film and are eager for more. When it comes to the sequel however sometimes they simply stagnate and become formulaic or else they go the other way and become bigger, bolder and brasher. Director Guy Ritchie’s second foray into the world of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes seems to favour the latter approach with an all out assault on its audience’s senses from the very outset. So much so that he would have had justification in naming it Lock, Stock and Two Shattered Eardrums as the pace is so frantic and the accompanying soundtrack so ear splittingly loud. It also possesses little of the nuances of its predecessor whilst the character development is virtually non-existent. Despite this once you have determined that subtlety is out to lunch on this project you can sit back and enjoy what is very much an action film of a very high calibre and, so what if there is not too much of a script to follow for its two hour duration, it is a hell of a ride which allows little time to worry about intricacies of plot or characterisation. It is also for all its macho posturing overtly and outrageously camp.

With both Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law both back in their roles as Holmes and Watson –alongside Rachel McAdams who briefly reprises her role as Irene Adler- the main difference in their relationship from the first film is that it is far more homo-erotic. To perpetuate this Holmes actually unceremoniously dispatches of Watson’s new bride shortly after their wedding, whilst in drag, even though they are on their way to their honeymoon. Stephen Fry makes a welcome addition to the cast though one prolonged scene in which he appears in the buff- despite being in possession of a body anything but- is certainly homo but most definitely not erotic. In fact there is very little room for female characters in this essentially Boys Own adventure as they are superfluous to the story and at best appear only obligatorily or as mere decoration. Downey Jr. seems to have taken some tips and inspiration from the camp flippancy of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow which was missing from the first instalment of the franchise and is not wholly convincing. The cerebral intensity of the relationship between Holmes and his adversary Moriarty is also a wasted opportunity which in the hands of a more subtle director could have been explored to much better effect.  Then again subtlety has never been Ritchie’s trademark

Despite these pointless gripes however the film roars along on its own terms never letting up and fittingly, considering its outcome, does not hesitate in taking no prisoners. It is a perfect holiday season film borne of little introspection although its premise of war as industry is highly relevant and shows the old fashioned ideology of conflicting personalities and duelling minds harboured at its roots. Although the constant barrage of visuals in the absence of plot may discern some viewers I must admit I actually really enjoyed this film for what it is, which quite simply put is a superior action film of high intensity.

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