Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

(In theaters, December 2011) It goes without saying that sequels often aim to replicate the elements that made the success of their predecessor, and add something more.  In this light, this follow-up to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes is an unqualified success, and maybe even a more enjoyable film than its predecessor.  Front and center, of course, is Robert Downey Jr.’s fast-witted take on the title character, complete with instant-strategy monologues and slashy repartee with Jude Law’s dependable Watson.  More importantly, though, Game of Shadows ups the ante by providing an antagonist that is strong enough to present a challenge to Holmes: Jared Harris’ Moriarty lives up to its literary namesake, and makes for a formidable opponent.  It all leads to a climactic chess game that plays off a few of the series’ signature motifs.  (Literary fans will see Reichenbach Falls appear and nod at where the film is going.)  Casting Stephen Fry as Mycroft is a bit of a coup, while it’s nice to see Noomi Rapace’s high cheekbones get a bit of Hollywood gloss after her role as “The Girl” of the Millennium trilogy.  Director Guy Richie once again provides an action-adventure take on the basic premise, along with light steampunk esthetics and slow-motion action sequences.  (A blue-tinted run through a forest provides a quasi-impressionistic sequence of almost-still images.)  While the end result doesn’t transcend the Hollywood holiday blockbuster genre, it’s a well-executed example of the form, keenly aware of its audience’s demands and almost eager to satisfy them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *