Many who have grown up reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes may not recognize the character in the movie version. Holmes in the movie is snappier, more prone to action, and so much more debonair.
When the first installment in the series came out in 2009, it enthralled. The second one is interesting, but in a different way. Game of Shadows has no substantial story to speak of (the movie’s storylines have nearly nothing to do with the ones we have read in the books). It’s basic: Professor Moriarty is unleashing himself on the world, with the dastardly plan of causing the first World War before its time and Holmes takes it on himself to stop him.
The actors slip into their roles easily. Robert Downey Jr is still the rogue-ish Holmes, and his banter with Jude Law’s Watson still making us chuckle. Rachel McAdams is wasted in her miniscule appearance as Irene Adler. Stephen Fry steps in to Mycroft Holmes feet and has his moments. Noomi Rapace is cast as a gypsy whom Moriarty is trying to kill for various reasons but fails to impress. Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) appears…but you blink and he’s gone. Kelly Reilly rounds up Holmes’ supporters as Watson’s wife. Which brings us to Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty. When you see the trailers, he does not look like he can be menacing at all. He’s not. I was yearning for Mark Strong’s eerie and chilling portrayal of Lord Blackwood. Don’t get me wrong; Harris does his job well…but I’m not scared of him. And I want to be.
Guy Ritchie picks up the pace from the first movie and runs faster. The slow-motion sequences are aplenty, but the most eye-catching and attention-grabbing being a chase sequence set in a forest. Its direction lends a different viewpoint and indeed, a clearer idea, of what happens when the guns are blazing and people are running for their lives. By one point though, the amount of slow-motion shots in the movie make you want to close your eyes and wait for it to be over.
It’s not really a detective story by this point, but more an action adventure. There is a quick nod to The Final Problem but that’s as close to the books as you’re going to get.
As Holmes himself said: “It’s so overt, it’s covert.”