A Game of Shadows, the much anticipated sequel of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, promises fast-paced action, witty dialogues and good acting – but nothing more.
It is the end of the 19th century and Europe is a picture of chaos. Multiple bombings and riots have erupted across the continent, the world is edging towards a major war, and the only person who can help end this destruction is Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr), with the help of his friend Dr Watson (Jude Law), of course.
Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) is secretly conspiring to trigger a world war that would create demand for the massive amount of arms and weapons he has been manufacturing. Sadly, his character sounds intriguing only in theory and we don’t really see the full extent of his skills in action. Unlike Sherlock Holmes (2009), in which Mark Strong made an extraordinary antagonist as Lord Blackwood, Game of Shadows has a rather unimpressive and humdrum performance by Jared Harris.
Meanwhile, Watson is set to wed the beautiful Mary Morston (Kelly Reilly) to the displeasure of Holmes. Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) appears fleetingly at the beginning of the movie but she is reduced to a feeble character whose only purpose in the plot is to show the suppressed emotional side of Holmes. This is disappointing because hers was the only strong female character in the last movie. Noomi Rapace plays Madam Simza Heron, a gypsy fortune teller who helps Holmes in the hope that he would find her brother, but though she has a lot of screen time, she is not given much scope for acting. The introduction of Sherlock Holmes’s brother Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry) offers a relief from the non-stop action and Fry delivers some good scenes.
Having seen the last movie, I was not expecting a faithful reproduction of Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant works, and sure enough, the Holmes we see in A Game of Shadows is more like a Victorian Bond than an eccentric person of supreme intelligence. This might be no bad thing in itself if there were a substantial plot line, but here we see only a trail of bombings and assassinations with occasional albeit hilarious dialogue. If you’re a devoted fan of the original, you will be disappointed. But if you’re looking for an entertaining detective thriller, this movie will work for you. a
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, January 15th, 2012.