Like its 2009 predecessor, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is more theme park ride than movie. It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s very ambitious.
Director Guy Ritchie loves to bounce back and forth between slow-mo and speedy, and this is a film that never, ever met a set piece that it didn’t like (or didn’t want to destroy).
That said? I liked it. In fact, I think I enjoyed the ride a little more than before.
Maybe this sequel was a little more solid in construction. It could just be that I’m finally comfortable with the design. Or perhaps –– to steal a term from you-know-who –– it’s elementary. I was in the mood for a darn, good time, even if it meant putting the brain in park.
It certainly helps when big stars are up for big fun. And Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law look like they’re having an absolute hoot.
Purist fans of Arthur Conan Doyle will likely continue to furrow their brow over the duo, but when it comes to adding life to the proceedings? By jove, I think these two have got it.
Now, on paper, Downey Jr. probably isn’t the best choice to play the lead role, but given that Holmes continues to exist on a diet of formaldehyde cocktails, wears disguises even when he doesn’t have to, and does a delicious balancing act of crazy and brilliant, I dunno, it kinda seems a nice moonlighting gig for Iron Man, don’t ya think?
Law’s Dr. Watson, a very slick straight man, is getting married in A Game Of Shadows. It’s one of a handful of subplots weaving about, but probably the one with the most weight, as it means that Holmes will lose his partner in solving crime. But when their fiercest and most renowned adversary, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) emerges as the mastermind behind a series of terrorist acts, it’s up to Holmes and Watson to put aside all else and save the world. Or, at the very least, a good chunk of it.
For such a busy movie, complete with every bell, whistle and locomotive that Ritchie can think of, thank goodness he had the common sense to allow enough space to let Downey Jr. and Law playfully banter. Because, as impressive as Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is, it’s the chemistry between the two heroes that makes the franchise. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.
The feature is currently playing at Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.
–– Jason Armstrong is The Morning Star’s longtime movie reviewer. His column, Aisle Seat, appears every Friday and Sunday.