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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Updated on November 9, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, Arthur Conan Doyle

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry, Paul Anderson, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, Eddie Marsan, William Houston, Wolf Kahler

Synopsis: Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his longtime trusted associate, Doctor Watson (Jude Law), take on their arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), with the help of Holmes's older brother Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry) and a gypsy named Sim (Noomi Rapace).

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material

It's Simply dear readers

After careful deduction of this movie, I've come to the conclusion that this film pales in comparison to the original film in terms of story telling, but it's still entertaining nonetheless. How I've come to such a startling conclusion is simply elementary my dear readers. Although the film still has plenty of the same high octane action scenes, and humor, that made the first film such a success with audiences, the sad fact about this movie is that it leaves much to be desired in terms of it's plot; which is a shame considering that one would think that a Sherlock Holmes film featuring his greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), would be a lot more interesting. However, like most sequels, the promise doesn't often match up with the results.

As many fans of the first one know, the last movie left on a cliffhanger to imply that Holmes' arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty, was not only the devious mastermind manipulating the situation behind the scenes, in the first film, but he would also play a significant role against Sherlock Holmes in the sequel. Indeed, one would think based on the concept that Moriarty was the devious one that manipulated the events of the first film, and happens to be infamously known to be Sherlock's greatest adversary, then one would expect an epic film like no other...but it never happens.

Don't get me wrong, the film is still very entertaining for what it tries to be, but the character build up between Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) isn't that strong. And, to make matters worse, Jared Harris comes off as a rather weak antagonist at best. Granted, the story is still equally as engaging as the first film, while leaving just enough clues and subtleties to keep the audience guessing until the very end. Unfortunately, the rivalry build up between the protagonist and antagonist isn't that strong, and Jared Harris lacks the intimidating demeanor that Mark Strong brought to the table in the first movie.

To get back to the story, Sherlock is locked into a case that involves hunting down the infamous Professor Moriarty, while dealing with Dr. Watson's impending wedding as his best man. However, things seem to go astray rather quickly, as Moriarty not only sends out his men to gun down Sherlock and all his friends for intervening with his plans, but he even has a scheme that could potentially wreak havoc on the world if he's not stopped by any means necessary. Will Holmes be able to deduce enough clues to stop Moriarty and his nefarious scheme? Or will Moriarty get the last laugh? Only time will tell, as this movie is indeed a deadly game of chess; where one wrong move can get you in check. Or better yet, you'll just have to see the movie to find out.

As I mentioned earlier, the action and humor that made the first one so much fun to watch is still there. In fact, Guy Ritchie amps up both in this sequel. Not only are there more explosions, and action sequences than what we saw in the first film, but Guy even tends to use quite a bit of slow motion to amp up the action as well. One particular scene for instance, we see Sherlock and Watson running through the woods, as Moriarty's cronies hunt them down; while using the patented bullet time slow motion that seems to be infamously popular these days (Thanks to the "Matrix" trilogy).

As for the humor, let's just say that if you thought Robert Downey Jr. came off as goofy and entertaining in some of his disguises in the last film, while enjoying the love/hate relationship of Holmes and Watson, then you'll definitely see more of that too. Unfortunately, as a wise man once said, sometimes too much of a good thing isn't always for the best. Although I too like many fans enjoyed the humor and action that the last film brought to the table, the sad reality is that this is also part of the problem for this sequel.

Unlike the last film where there was a strong character build up between Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Strong's characters, the build in this movie seems to take a backseat quite a bit to action and humor sequences. Sure, some fans have argued that the first movie suffered from this as well, but I beg to differ. At least in the first movie, Guy still allowed for their be moments where we could identify with the struggles of the characters internally, where we could see relationships grow and develop. Heck, there was even a brief moment, in the first movie, that showed how even Sherlock Holmes started to doubt himself, after he was temporarily labeled a fugitive of the law. However, it was because of those moments were so subtle, and downplayed, that it never interfered with the up tempo action comedy pace that the first movie established. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn't offer any of those kind of moments.

No, what we're treated to here is plenty of missed opportunities to explore some of the character's internal struggles, while providing a deeply engaging emotional story full of action and comedy. Sadly, those type of moments to explore the characters' relationships and internal struggles are practically nonexistent in this movie. In fact, Holmes doesn't seem to lose any sleep upon hearing that his love interest, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), is killed by Professor Moriarty's cronies. Sure, there was the one brief moment that you could subtly see the sad expression on Downey's face, upon hearing about it for the first time, to show the sadness of his character. However, even that moment was short lived, and it's never mentioned again throughout the rest of movie.

However, I can't blame any of the actors for the shortcomings of Guy Ritchie's movie, as it cuts out a lot character development in favor of action comedy sequences, but it's rather sad to say the least. But then again, this is also why it's a good thing that the film features such great actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law; who both have a great chemistry together on screen. In spite of the limitations that the script has for their characters, both of them seem to rise to the occasion to carry this movie. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about Jared Harris. Granted, one can tell he tries his best to live up to portraying such an iconic villain like Moriarty, and the scheme his character tries to pull is certainly devious enough, but to be honest, you never actually felt like he much of a threat to Holmes at all in this movie. If anything, the film has to constantly remind audiences that Moriarty is a force to be reckoned with, but it shouldn't be that way. No, Moriarty was known throughout literature as the only adversary who could match Holmes intellectually, yet in this film, it seems like Holmes is always one step ahead of him.

Don't get me wrong, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" is still a very entertaining film, and it'll certainly keep it's audience guessing throughout it's course; while featuring more of the epic action scenes and comedy that audiences loved about the first one. However, it could have been so much more...

In the end, I'd have to give this movie a two and a half out of four. It's not a bad movie by any means, and if you liked the first movie, then you'll still like this one as well. However, like most sequels, it just doesn't live up to the first movie; hence why I would advise all my readers to wait for the DVD/Blue Ray release, as this film isn't worth seeing in theaters.


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    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      word. will do

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 6 years ago

      That's cool. Well let me know what you think of them then. :)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      i do plan too, just haven't gotten around to it. Big RDJ fan

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 6 years ago


      Thanks FK. I'm glad we both agreed on this film. If you ever get a chance, you should check out the first one though, as it's definitely way better than the second if you ask me. Anyway, thanks again for stopping by, as it's always a pleasure to see you. :)


      that's cool. well if you ever do decide to see either one, i hope you enjoy them all the same. thanks for stopping by though. :)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      i watch a lot of movies and still haven't seen this film or it's predecessor

    • Flightkeeper profile image

      Flightkeeper 6 years ago from The East Coast

      Hi stevennix2001, I enjoyed the movie but it could have been better and I agree with you, I could have waited until I saw it on DVD. Thanks!

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 6 years ago

      Yeah, that's true. Speaking of vampire movies, I can't wait to see "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter" next year, as I think it might be good. Although, I'm kind of curious to see how much historical events they'll use to tie into the fantasy lore of Abe Lincoln gunning down vampires. lol

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      i was pleasantly surprised by it. I knew that it wasn't going to be about sparkling brooding vampires but still it was good.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 6 years ago

      Same here. It's a shame that movie didn't that well in the box office, as i thought it was a great horror movie about vampires...or should i say..REAL vampires versus those lame sparkly ones. lol.

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      his acting would be the perfect kind of foil in ways to Downey above all else. I never thought to much of him before, but he is a good actor. I really liked him in Fright Night

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 6 years ago

      Oh yeah, I forgot about those guys. that's a very good point. in hindsight, i think colin farrell might've been the best choice, as his style of acting would blend in perfectly with the action comedy setting that Guy uses with these sherlock movies.

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      I know what you mean about Pitt playing well, Brad Pitt. He wouldn't fit for Moriarity a better fit would have been a guy live Clive Owen or maybe even Colin Farrell could pull it off.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 6 years ago


      lol. To be honest, I can't understand the casting behind Jared Harris either, as I was hoping that the rumor of them casting Daniel Day-Lewis would've came into fruition instead. As for Brad Pitt, I think he would make an interesting choice, and he can definitely play a bad guy, as he's proven in "Fight Club." But, my only drawback to that is that Brad Pitt can only seem to play himself in a movie if you know what I mean? However, he definitely would've been an upgrade from Harris if you ask me. Anyway, thanks for stopping by again pal.

      @carl the critic

      Thanks, I think you're being too kind, but I appreciate the compliment though. Although we may not have agreed on this movie completely, I thought you brought up a lot of valid points as well; especially concerning the inner monologue of Holmes before the slow motion action sequences, as I have to say that I agree with you on that note. As for film knowledge, I think you too have shown to have a great knowledge about films yourself, as I consider you one of the best film critics on this site, and arguably one of the best critics out there period. Heck, you've already surpassed Peter Travers in my book. Nothing against him, but some of his recent reviews have been coming off more as rants than actual film reviews if you know what i mean.


      Wow, they're making a third one already? That was rather fast. But then again, I can't say I'm too surprised about that. Hell, Sony is already planning two sequels to "The Amazing Spider-Man", and the first movie hasn't even come out yet. Oh well, I guess they're just trying to strike while the iron is hot so to speak. Thanks for the inside scoop, and for stopping by to read my hub. I'm glad you liked it. :)


      Your welcome, and thank you for stopping by. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad movie by any means, as it's definitely entertaining. However, I do hope you enjoy the film though whenever you get a chance to see it. :)


      lol. Well, I don't know about that, as I've barely been making a consistent income from hubpages since the panda hit, but I'm sure things will get better soon. Right now, it seems like I'm writing these reviews more so for the passion of it rather than money these days; although I'd like to have the money too. lol.

      Anyway, to answer your question, I've been doing okay these days. how about yourself? I hope everything has been going okay for you too recently, and that you had a great holiday too. It's very good to see you again, as I always consider it a pleasure whenever I see you. You be sure to take care okay, and thanks for stopping by. :) xoxo


      Well to answer your first question, I can't really comment because I've never seen "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" before. I heard about it from my brother a while back, but I've never seen it. Sorry.

      But, based on how great you described "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", I seriously doubt he makes a better showing in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows." However, I'll definitely make a note to check out "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" sometime, since you seem to think very highly of it, and i know you have great tastes in films.

      As far as script issues are concerned, you could definitely tell from watching this movie that there was a lot of potential in orchestrating what should've been a great film about the intense rivalry between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, as the story seemed intriguing enough. However, it does seem like Ritchie sacrifices a lot of substance to show off more action in this movie if you ask me; rather than allowing the story to develop on it's own, as there's a lot of rushed character developing moments in this movie. So on that note, I would have to say the script issues have more to do with Guy's directing more than anything else.

      Anyway, I hope that answers your question though. I do apologize for replying to you so late, as I've just been kind of busy during the holiday season, so I haven't had a chance to respond to all the comments yet. Anyway, thanks again for stopping by, as it's always an honor and privilege to see you. :)

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Hi Steve; I've heard such a mixed range of reviews on this film that I'm thinking I'll probably wait for the DVD. I liked the first film but this one seems questionabe. I expected a film with Moriarty to be epic.

      Thanks for the review,


    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 6 years ago from australia

      Hey Steve how are you going? I loved this film. Robert is so sexy. I would not say no. How could any woman? Roar!!!!!!!!!!! Its so great to see you have written so many hubs now, good on you, I hope you are doing real well because of it x

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      Once again, another great review, Stevennix. I haven't seen the film yet, but will sooner or later.

      I do wonder what you thought of Richie's directing. I have mixed feelings about his work and after seeing everything after Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, wondering if that stroke of genious was a fluke. Does he have a better showing in this film?

      You also said that the plot wasn't up to par. Do you think that was a script issue or were there holes that Richie created by his directing? I ask because he's a director that seems to alter scripts in order to have a better shot, with little consideration to how it might affect the film as a whole.

      Either way, I have a really soft spot for Robert Downey Jr, so I'll see it, but probably not until it comes out on Blue Ray.

    • rednickle profile image

      rednickle 6 years ago from New Brunswick Canada

      what a great film that lived up to its hype and i really like how detailed your hub was. I cant believe they are in the course of making a third one though

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      There are some things I agree with and some thing that I don't (like how Moriarty and Holmes didn't have enough chemistry I thought they had a lot of great moments together). I much prefer this film to the first but there were issues with it like you've mentioned. This hub shows you have a great knowledge of films, and you write with passion that I give this a Voted Up, Useful, Awesome, and Interesting. Keep up the great work :)

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      I'm glad that we see eye to eye on this film lol. It had so much potential with a villain like Moriarty but I just don't get why they went with Harris for the role. I read somewhere that Brad Pitt was interested in the part.