Though it is still debatable if Robert Downey Jr. or Wishbone makes a better Sherlock Holmes, the memorable quality of Downey’s performance two years ago as the classic detective will be impossible to forget. He made what I assumed to be a stodgy, pipe-smoking British guy eccentrically cool, something that I couldn’t help get enough of.
“But Lauren, why is the movie subtitled A Game of Shadows?” Well reader that I just made up for my writing purposes, I am glad you asked! I just wish I could give you the answer. You see, throughout the first film there was a man who lurked in the shadows as Sherlock thwarted his underlings in their attempts to do his bidding, so much so that his hidden hair grew a few more gray strands (I assume). He grew so angry that shortly into this film he decided to come out from the shadows and fight against Sherlock head-to-head.
Which is the first problem with Professor Moriarty. Minus one unforgivable act shortly into the film, a man who orchestrated something so maniacal and multifaceted before is left with a few lame tricks. He is still presented as an incredibly ingenious man capable of giving Holmes a run for his money, but this is not always apparent this time around, especially when his motives are revealed. They are so generic that they make it impossible to remember the man he is actually supposed to be.
But hey, at least we still have Sherlock to solve these mysteries along with his trusted friend Watson. Downey and Jude Law still have the strong chemistry of their bromance in tact, but the dynamic is shifted slightly when Noomi Rapace is thrown in as a gypsy to represent the X chromosome, taking the place of Rachel McAdams’ thief who makes Holmes’ brain skip and stick like a poorly oiled machine. Her character is not one that can be done away with because of her connection to the story, but she is far from an integral cast member in terms of what is asked of her. Basically her character boils down to this: “Oh, you need to see that person? Because of my history I can make that happen. Oh, you need to go to this country? My gypsy lifestyle makes me capable taking you there.” In other words, she is solely there as an excuse to make certain tasks simple enough, adding little else to the story.
Considering all of the flaws, the one thing that does still have its charm is Holmes when he is putting pieces of the puzzle together. Or maybe I should clarify that he is still up on creating some ridiculous disguises. In actuality, other than a few moments of sleuthiness that don’t get the level of focus received in the first film, as well as his ability to see the future in fights, his skill set really does seem to take a back seat. Gone are the days in which he must figure out how a man has come back to life to be a magical being capable of lighting a man on fire. Now he is fighting a man of normal means. In other words, there is a lot more of the ordinary. He fights with fists, he chases killers, killers chase him, and he gets shot at (often in slow motion).
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows still is enjoyable thanks to the cast and an amazing character created by Downey, but the one thing this film really is missing is a mystery to solve. Instead it is more of a race to the end to beat another flesh and blood man before he accomplishes what he set out to do.
Final Grade: B- Follow @BewareOfTrees