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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

They’re baaack! Holmes and Watson (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law) pick up slightly after we last saw them in the first Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Watson is about to be married, and Holmes is still not entirely happy about it. And meanwhile, bombs are going off all over Europe, and while everyone else is blaming it on anarchists, Sherlock knows that it has something to do with his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). He just has to put the pieces together, and he is willing to play Moriarty’s extreme body-count cat and mouse game if necessary, even if it means ruining Watson’s honeymoon.

All the same elements are here that made the first one such a fun romp – the women (Noomi Rapace, Kelly Reilly, Rachel McAdams) who are lovely but peripheral, the Guy Ritchie-style fight scenes, the witty banter, the delightfully designed Victorian sets and clothes, and the most satisfying part of this franchise, the buddy relationship. Downey and Law really do have wonderful chemistry, which makes this kind of silly flick totally entertaining, even if it has a few scripting holes and you don’t ever get to know the girl that comes along for most of the ride. You don’t even notice that it clocks in at 129 minutes.

This time around the story centers on Professor Moriarty’s plan to start a World War and become a rich man by cornering the munitions market. He and Sherlock have a few scenes together where they play mind games with one another, and a few where they attempt to kill one another, and while the fate of the world lies in the balance, they even play a nice game of chess. And just to keep Holmes on his toes and out of his hair, Moriarty goes after Watson and his new bride, on the train to Brighton for their honeymoon, which of course brings Watson right back into the thick of the story, as the two of them race to stop the villainous Professor from destroying Western civilization.

This is the kind of movie where the story isn’t really all that important. It is all about Holmes and Watson having a ripping good time. As usual, the über-talented Downey goes all out, one minute fighting with a parkour-adept Cossack, the next showing up in another silly disguise (his urban camouflage is particularly fun), and later dancing with his perfectly sane sidekick Watson. It is this infectious sense of intelligent whimsy that will keep this series going. There are also some very funny scenes with Holmes’s brother Mycroft played by the hilarious Stephen Fry. [But if there was one thing I would ask of Guy Ritchie for the next one, could you please let Holmes shave? Downey is scruffy throughout and, as the minutes go by, more and more beaten and bruised. I’d just love to see that face in its beautiful, pure state for a scene or two before the brass knuckles come out.]

I’d recommend this one to anyone who liked the first Sherlock Holmes. It the same winning formula and I can see many more to come. It would be great for a date night movie, too. Cute guys for the chicks and lots of fight scenes for the roosters. Something for everyone.



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