Review: Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows (Ritchie, 2011)

Since Guy Ritchie wowed critics and fans alike with his interpretation of legendary fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes in 2009, we’ve been anxiously awaiting his return. Ritchie, famous for British Gangster films which feature perhaps a few too many four letter words, transformed Holmes into a sharp-tongued action figure eagerly welcomed by modern audiences. Those expecting bigger, better and more spectacular things from the sequel are sure not to be disappointed in A Game of Shadows.

Robert Downey Jr. returns as the world’s most famous detective leading a stellar cast into a twisted adventure of conspiracy and murder in the Victorian era. A Game of Shadows picks up not long after the first film with Holmes sniffing out a conspiracy conducted by arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty.  A foolishly confident Watson (Jude Law) plans to leave the life of crime solving behind on a honeymoon in Brighton with new wife, Mary (Kelly Reilly). No such luck. Predictably Watson is brought back into Holmes’ case dragging his heels along the way.

Also joining them is a fortune-telling gypsy, Sim, played admirably by Noomi Rapace (fresh off of Dragon Tattoo fame) who makes a welcome addition to the cast.

Our villain at the centre of this clue-finding caper is Jared Harris who puts in a fantastic albeit unnerving performance as Holmes’ greatest advisory, Professor Moriarty. Playing the sinister genius flawlessly with the perfect blend of calculated composure and insanity, the only thing betraying his truly heinous nature is the fleeting malevolent glint in his eye. Harris’ depiction of Moriarty is made all the more disturbing due to the fact that he never shows signs of coming unhinged, whether he is making masked threats towards Holmes or plotting European conflicts he never drops his imperturbable formality.

Undeniably Harris and Downey Jr have amazing chemistry in this game of cat and mouse which is what really makes the progressively tense exchanges and eventual showdown between the two foes work so well. A Game of Shadows is everything you could expect from another Sherlock instalment. It possesses all the cinematic elements which made the first film successful whilst adding a little more flare. Between Holmes’ illustrious charm, some diabolical scheming and enough dynamite to blow up half a continent, it’s an outstanding film.

Platform Rating: 9/10


Laura Somers