MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Although I’ve had it recommended to me several times, I’ve still yet to catch up with Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes movie. While I can’t offer a comparison, what I can say is the sequel is gloriously entertaining, well directed and a real victory of Victorian-era blockbusting.
Starring Robert Downey Jr as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson, you’ve really got to applaud what might not immediately seem like terrific casting as something that actually works really, really well. It’s the relationship between Holmes and Watson that’s always going to make a film like this work and RDJ and Law have chemistry aplenty, aided by some witty dialogue that really makes these characters amiable. RDJ comes oh-so close to entering the Captain Jack Sparrow territory of giving his character a self conscious, eccentric and over-the-top tedium, but he just about manages to pull it back into something mad, but not annoyingly mad. Silly, but not stupid. His English accent is a bit mumbly but not something that will annoy Brits, a great relief.
The plot takes place in 1891 as Sherlock believes a series of bombings between France and Germany are all connected. The common theory behind them is that they are being exchanged between mad anarchists and zealous nationalists but Holmes thinks there’s something more co-ordinated behind them, yet he has no proof. Meanwhile, Watson is just getting married but any chances of a relaxing honeymoon seem unlikely with Holmes’s instinctive intrigue and magnetic nature for trouble. Holmes suspects Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) is playing some role in inducing all this chaos and two geniuses collide.
The plot isn’t really what stands out most, although it’s perfectly fine. The action is really well directed, particularly the use of slow motion in order to change the pace, which keeps you on your toes and stops it from just feeling like an endless series of traded punches but instead it’s a lot more visually interesting. There’s also a great use of editing throughout the film to try and fill the audience in on things through quick, spliced cuts which strangely reminded me of the drug use in Requiem for a Dream. The film is constantly visually appealing and you’ve really got to applaud Guy Ritchie who’s gone out of his comfort zone with this series but proved himself more versatile and capable than many critics may have expected.
Overall this is a very fine blockbuster which both adults and kids will enjoy immensely. It’s got a compulsive pace and a light humour which makes it constantly a delight and I look forward to finally catching up and seeing the first film.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is out now in the UK and US. Running time 129 mins. Certificate 12a (UK).
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Review by David Rank