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Published on December 15th, 2011 | by simeon

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law return once again as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows“. In this installment, a series of bombings across Europe has positioned the nations of the world on the brink of war. Holmes is convinced that there is a criminal mastermind behind the numerous, seemingly unrelated events and he believes it is renowned scholar James Moriarty (Jared Harris).

Watson, well-accustomed to Holmes’ eccentric and erratic behavior, is dubious of Holmes claims. Besides, Watson has his upcoming wedding to focus on, and only deigns to spend time with Holmes at the promise of a stag party at an upscale gentlemen’s club. While the bachelor party includes an entertaining Stephen Fry playing Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, Holmes has ulterior motives for taking Watson to this particular club. Early in the film, Holmes had cleverly intercepted a message from Irene Adler (Amy McAdams), that led him to a fortuneteller named Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), a woman Holmes believes has been targeted for death by Moriarty, who just happens to be working at the gentlemen’s club.

Eventually a meeting with Moriarty is arranged for Holmes. The two intellectuals spar with one another verbally in a civilized manner, with menacing undertones. Holmes isn’t able to convince Moriarty that Watson is no longer a partner in any of his endeavors and, Holmes is forced to take drastic measures to ensure the doctor and his new wife stay out of harm’s way. From Paris to Germany and other European locales, Holmes, Watson, and Simza and her gypsy friends race against time to uncover the diabolical plot that Moriarty has set for their demise in his quest to drive nations to war.

The film is an absolute delight and is a rare sequel that is even better than the previous film in the series. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law have amazing chemistry with one another and their timing is absolutely perfect. The duo deftly mix action and comedy as well as the serious subject matter of the plot line and are utterly captivating and enjoyable to watch every step of the way. Rapace continues to impress in a much softer character than her Lisbeth Salandar role in the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Swedish trilogy. and is poised to become one of Hollywood’s new leading ladies.

Having become familiar with Harris’ work on the series Mad Men, I was delighted to see him expertly portray such a complex character as Moriarty: a gentleman scholar of impeccable upbringing and education who is also a twisted and evil genius. Harris plays Moriarty perfectly and never lets you forget the dark and sinister side of him without ever becoming a campy or cartoony vaudeville villain.

Guy Ritchie returns as director and lets his stars carry the film. The action has been ramped up this time around with some spectacular action sequences but the action never overshadows the character-driven story. The film was well-paced and an absolute thrill ride from beginning to end mixing fantastic action and some great humor for a very winning combination that is not to be missed. I am already looking forward to future outings of Holmes and Watson on the big screen as this was a truly enjoyable experience that shows you how action comedies are supposed to be made.

4.5 stars out of 5


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