Brimming with more formidable adversaries and even more fast-paced action, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” an exciting rendition of British detective.
The conflict in the film is on an even larger scale than in the first installment—respected mathematician Professor James Moriarty, unbeknown to the world except, of course, Holmes, is plotting to throw the whole of Europe into war through bombings and assassinations. Moriarty would benefit considerably from such a war, as he operates an enormous secret munitions factory. Now, Holmes must, in his words, “prevent the collapse of western civilization” by stopping a man who just might be even more intelligent than he before the upcoming peace summit, where Moriarty is planning his last attack.
Cinematically, the film is a masterpiece. The action sequences are stunning—a standout is the train fight—and give the movie a quick pace and a sense of urgency that reflects the characters’ emotional states. The shots of gray, foggy Victorian London also contribute to the “shadow” theme of the movie.
Of course, a Sherlock Holmes movie review would not be complete without mentioning the actors’ outstanding performances. Robert Downey Jr. captures perfectly the comical eccentricity and the quick-witted brilliance of Holmes, providing comic relief in the midst of intense action, like throwing Mary (Kelly Reilly), Watson (Jude Law)’s wife out of a moving train. The degree of perfection with which he plays Holmes can be likened to that of Johnny Depp when portraying Captain Jack Sparrow—it would be hard to see anyone else portraying Sherlock Holmes differently now. Law also delivers, providing a contrasting (and sane) viewpoint against Holmes, and Jared Harris, who plays Professor James Moriarty, skillfully and subtly portrays the villain with subtle changes in his gaze and tone between the respected scholar and money-hungry criminal.
Like the previous installment, “A Game of Shadows” veers from Arthur Conan Doyle’s original version, but it delivers action, excellent cinematography, and comedy, making it a must-see for the modern viewer.