The gambit of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Posted by CB Droege

The second film in the new Sherlock Holmes franchise is hitting theaters this weekend.

As in the first film, this Sherlock is one who uses his brains for more than just deductive reasoning. He’s an action star, a martial artist, but it all stems from his gigantic intellect and supernatural ability to plan ahead.

In this entry, Holmes comes directly into conflict with Professor Moriarty, his classic arch nemesis, and we see him finally get tricked once or twice along the way, which builds this modern interpretation of the character quite well.

The opening scenes of the film serve to remind us, if we've forgotten, just how skilled Holmes is at combat, using his intuition to predict the course of a melee, and then affect it.

This is shown with a sort-of dream-state, in which Holmes can play out the fight in his head, like analyzing a series of chess moves.

The mixed show-motion action scenes are outstanding. In fact, all of the action cinematography is masterful. Every scene was clear and full of energy and one never quite loses control of the action in their heads, despite the frequent shifts in frame-speed. 

The dynamic between Downey and Law is even better than the first film. Together they make some of the best individual scenes I’ve seen in any film this year. Law’s cool competence, and frequent frustration is nestled perfectly with Downey’s natural, and nearly psychotic arrogance. It’s never for a second unclear why these two are friends, a common problem with some buddy films.

Stephen Fry is simply excellent as Mycroft. He’s got a great challenge here, as ‘the other Holmes’, to resist the temptation to portray the character as simply a copy of the way Downey plays Holmes. Fortunately, he manages to create a character who uses the supernatural deductive reasoning and arrogance of Holmes in a completely different way, showing us a Mycroft who is both clearly Sherlock’s brother, but also surely nothing like Sherlock.

Noomi Rapace also plays well the female lead, who is refreshingly not given to romance. She is charming and lovely, but no one wants to kiss her today, which is just fine, for a romantic sup-plot would have pulled us away from the core relationship being studied here, that of Holmes and Watson, as it should be (and wasn’t quite in the first film).

Over all, the film is a genuinely fun and rousing adventure story, mixed with the witty antics, and humorous banter made the first film so good. No one should miss this one, Holmes fan or otherwise.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is in theaters now.