There was Sherlock Holmes and then there was Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. Guy Ritchie takes the movie away from the book and I say takes it to the next level. Those who would have read the book might say that it’s no where close to the book. Yes it is not as Guy Ritchie modifies the storyline to suit today’s audience. And for me he did a good job. A lot of times we compare the sequels and we end up getting disappointed. But not this time. The reason so many Sir Arthur Conan Doyle loyalists dismissed the film is that the frenetic pace and towering action sequences (besides the modified storyline) seem to go against what made the original stories so great. So what does Guy Ritchie do? He goes bigger, better & faster!
A Game of Shadows picks up shortly after the first Sherlock Holmes, with Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) trying to solve the web of a series of bombings and assassinations across Europe suspecting Professor James Moriarty as the mastermind behind all these events. Meanwhile, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is preparing to wed fiancé Mary (Kelly Reilly). Moriarty’s targets those closest to Holmes.Holmes manages to wrangle the honeymooning Watson into helping solve this final case, and the two begin an odyssey across Europe, following each subsequent clue they discover to the next strand in Moriarty’s web. With the help of allies like Sherlock’s brilliant (but lazy) brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry), or knife-wielding gypsy, Simza (Noomi Rapace), for every step Holmes and Watson take forward, they find that Moriarty is already two steps further ahead and then the game of Shadow begins.
There are lots of action scenes that keeps the film exciting and running at a constant pace. The sequences are louder, much more explosive and exuberant. Best is the sequence where Sim and others escape from the German area. Guy Ritchie is known for inventive and momentum shifting action scenes. Sometimes bullets fly faster than the speed of light and then shift to ‘Matrix’ time . The sequence is one of the best shot sequences of the year. The simple chess game sequence between Holmes and Moriarty is another high rated sequence. While you think a chess game would be boring, Guy Ritchie films it as if it was a grand battle with Hans Zimmer’s music in the background setting up the tone.
Ten years ago, Robert Downey Jr’s drug abuse made him uninsurable; now he’s one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. For turning his life around, he deserves respect. And he continues from where he left in the first movie. With his roughish charms and quick wit, Downing Jr.is just brilliant in portraying the detective but also at places went overboard. His bizarre behavior, regardless of his intelligence adds a layer of comedy to the film. His trademark hobby, disguising into several unexpected people is just purely entertaining. Jude Law is again very good as Watson, lovely Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler disappears from the film far too early on, to be replaced by Noomi Rapace playing a gypsy with an incomprehensible accent. While Downey Jr. and Law are just as impeccable and well matched as ever but the addition of Jade Harris as Moriarty makes it even better. The character’s presence was felt throughout the film. Watching Harris match wits with Downey is simply astounding, and makes for the most wildly enjoyable parts of the film. There is never a dull moment when he is around, and instead of making the film drone on, he invigorates it with an immense amount of energy. He and Downey Jr. have a fantastic chemistry, wherein Holmes and Moriarty are two sides of the same coin, and have just as much respect for one another’s intellect as they do disdain for how the other man chooses to use it. Watching the onscreen rivalry here made me compare it to the onscreen rivalry of Batman and The Joker.
The screenwriters, Michele and Kieran Mulroney, have drawn on Conan Doyle’s novel for Moriarty’s character. Hans Zimmer’s melodramatic score incorporates arias from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and a jaunty Morricone theme from Two Mules for Sister Sara.
Overall Sherlock Holmes 2 is entertaining in terms of pace, humour and style. Ritchie compels us forward, making us want to see what happens next and he achieves in doing so. As I said earlier it is bigger, better and faster than the first part. And yes its a different Sherlock but then we got a different James Bond too in Daniel Craig. Watch it for Downey Jr. Watch it for guy Ritchie and watch it for the duel between Moriarty and Holmes.
Rating- 3.5 out of 5
P.S- Thanks to Prassana @labellagorda & @warnerbrosindia for the special preview