By far the greatest pleasure of watching Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is savouring the masterly interplay between Robert Downey Jr. as the brilliant detective and Jude Law as his long-suffering sidekick, Dr. Watson. As with the first movie, there is a virtually uninterrupted frisson of homoerotic tension between the two men, and it is played with a wonderfully sly sense of humour.
The paint-by-numbers plot involves a diabolical scheme by Professor Moriarty to secretly fund anarchist groups so that their terrorist bombings set the stage for a vast European war. Holmes is the only person who suspects the dire truth, and in order to save both Europe and the just-married Dr. Watson, he ruins the poor man’s honeymoon and leads them both on a mad dash from Paris to Germany to Switzerland, battling various ruffians on the fly.
Returning director, Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), is a Tarantino-esque stylist who once again brings heavy-handed vigour to this mash-up of a Victorian-era setting with a modern sense of jokey violence. The look of the movie is right out of Dickens, the performances are vivid, and the action is hard core. Author, raconteur and sometime-actor Stephen Frye makes a droll Mycroft Holmes, while Jared Harris has an understated menace as Moriarty. Sweden’s Noomi Rapace has shed her dragon tattoos in favour of some gypsy drag, although her performance is wasted playing a weakly-written character. But the storyline cracks along nicely, and the jokes fly as often as the bullets do. Holmesian purists will be appalled, but this is decidedly silly fun. M
Sherlock Holmes ★ ★ ★
Directed by Guy RItchie
Starring Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr.
PG-13 – 129 minutes
Continues at the Capitol, SilverCity, Westshore