Review: Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows
Sherlock Holmes was a successful movie that combined witty dialogue with some superb fighting sequences. It also benefited from having the great actor that is Robert Downey Jr, and his on-screen chemistry with co-stars Jude Law and Rachel McAdams was palpable. Mark Strong provided the movie an adequate foe for Holmes and Watson to face off with. While Strong's character was a bit weak and undeveloped, his actual ability as an actor made the character noteworthy. A Game of Shadows continues the great on-screen chemistry between Downey and Law and the other things that the original did well with. Guy Ritchie still does a good job of directing the action, but the film's pacing is a bit slower. It would have benefited from being 20-30 minutes shorter. However, the villain is still under developed and this time the actor playing the part is much weaker. Jared Harris plays Professor James Moriarty and does not impress. Frequently due to his lack of ability to pull off a good villain, I found myself checking the time to often.
The plot follows Holmes as he and Watson are hot on the trails of the most cunning adversary, Moriarty. Holmes is trying to link murders to him and is in pursuit of stopping an assassination he had planned on another person. Holmes runs into his old flame Irene from the first film and it is found out that she is working with Moriarty. The mark is still assassinated, and Moriarty deeps Irene irrelevant and poisons her. I figured due to Holmes feelings for Irene that he would be more distraught over the loss and that it would effect his decision making in his attempts to take down Moriarty. Instead, all of this emotional drama is thrown to the wayside for bigger action sequences. Holmes focuses all of his attention on bringing down Moriarty but you never get a sense of loss from him minus one scene but after that one scene, it is never brought back up again.
Holmes and Watson come across another one of Moriarty's targets at Watson's stag party, seeing how he is getting married to his girlfriend from the first movie. The target is a gypsy who is the younger sister of a man that Moriarty deems important. Moriarty believes that her brother told her vital information and sees her as a loose end that needs to be eradicated. After saving her, she is seemingly forgotten and disappears until later in the movie. Holmes goes to visit Moriarty at his school and it essentially becomes a pissing contest between the two. They both continuously try to get a one up on each other, the scene was written beautifully but it didn't resonate with me simply because Jared Harris isn't on the acting level of Robert Downey. We were constantly being reminded throughout the movie that Moriarty is a great foe for Holmes, but however whenever he was on screen I couldn't take him seriously or be afraid of him.
After Holmes' pissing contest with Moriarty, he sought out to bring down Moriarty but he also knew the Moriarty would go after his best friend Watson. Holmes is outsmarted a few times by Moriarty throughout the film and the outcome of his investigation looks bleak until he pulls one brilliant trick out from his sleeve to best Moriarty. It leads to another great scene at the climax of the film as the two enemies sit down to play a game of chess. The reasons are also explained in the scene as to why Moriarty has resorted to such devious crimes, which in my opinion could have been a little bit better.
A Game of Shadows is an entertaining movie for its excellent action sequences, witty dialogue and the on-screen chemistry between Downey and Law. Downey does an incredible job once again in the title role, and Law does a great job as the sidekick once again. The action sequences are impressive, with the standout coming closer to the end as we see our heroes running through a forest dodging bullets and mortar strikes. The slow-mo action sequences to me are beginning to get to the point of being over done, and there are quite a few of them in this film. Guy Ritchie does a good job of directing this film but the pacing could have been a little better. The original Girl With a Dragoon Tattoo star, Noomi Rapace, also does a good job in her first role in an American film. Moriarty for all intensive purposes is a decent villain as he provides everything that you would want from a foe to face off with one of the smartest men in cinematic history, but Harris is in over his head. There is a reason why we have never seen Harris in a role outside of Adam Sandler movies or other comedy roles.