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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

by on 2012/11/27

“Then again I’m knee-deep in research. Extracting fluids from the adrenal glands of sheep and designing my own urban camouflage.”

* * * *

I really love Sherlock Holmes. It is one of my many enthusiasms.


And when I say enthusiasm, I mean a sort of mild obsession. This obsession has led occasionally, to a an unhealthy feeling of protectiveness which I have described at some length previously on this blog.

This persona created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has, in fact, made me do some odd things of late. It was after watching two seasons of the BBC’s sublime Sherlock television series when I, in the thrall of Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the 221B Baker Street-dwelling detective, bought two tickets to London for my favourite teenager Miss_Tree and I.

Still not sure what happened there. I had to see the London Eye with my own eyes. Apparently.

Sherlock makes me do mad things.

And speaking of mad, how about this Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes sequel? It is barking mad. I mean Sherlock Holmes in a dress, blonde ringlets, blue eyeshadow and orange-red lipstick – mad.

I quite liked it.

The gang is back – Robert Downey Jr. (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), Jude Law (eXistenZ) and Rachel McAdams (The Notebook). They are charming as ever. Ratcheting up my joy index was the addition of the outstanding Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Stephen Fry (St. Trinian’s). Both are great. They are always great.

Rapace is a gypsy with a dark and secret past. Fry is the weighty and wise Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother. There’s a vast conspiracy led by Professor James Moriarty played by Jared Harris (Tales of Black Freighter). Harris is really surprising in this role. He gives an incredible portrayal of tightly controlled malice. His performance is subtle, while this film is anything but.

Ritchie does love his raging, chest-thumping beefcake in this series. You can practically smell on this film a manly odour like one that might waft off the bare-knuckle boxing ring. If there’s an excuse for fisticuffs and shirtlessness, Ritchie takes it. (Note: Sherlock in this film prefers an open-handed slap more often than not).

There are a lot of things that go boom in this film as well. Big, big guns, big explosions, lots of splintering trees and buildings. Lots of blood. And a lot, a lot, a lot of slo-mo bullet-time effects. Perhaps too many, in particular the sequence when Sherlock and his bosom-chum Watson race from a munitions factory.

Downey Jr. and Law are laugh out loud funny in this film. In fact, Miss_Tree and I couldn’t stop laughing throughout.

The first film took itself a little bit seriously at times, this one does not.

When it comes to Mr. Downey Jr., you can bank on charisma. You can also bank on rapier-sharp wit and outstanding physical comedy.

But here we come to my only quibble with this terrific movie. He’s just not Sherlock Holmes, at least, not the one that’s been residing in my mind’s eye all these years. This being has only been embodied by Jeremy Brett, in the Granada television series.

Robert Downey Jr. is wonderful, this film is wonderful. But every last bit of it is not, somehow, Sherlock Holmes to me.

* * * *

129 minutes

Rated PG-13 for intense (ly slo-mo) sequences of violence and action

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