Holmes is where the heart is
REVIEW SHERLOCK HOLMES : A GAME OF SHADOWS (M) ★★★■ Director: Guy Ritchie ( Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Kelly Reilly, Stephen Fry Time to inspect more renovated Holmes
TWO summers ago, British director Guy Ritchie won the job of rebooting that fusty fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. The project should have been an open- and- shut case of filmmaking folly.
It was not. Against all odds, Ritchie kicked the clue- crunching codger all the way into the cool zone.
The old Sherlock would stand rooted to the spot, magnifying glass in one hand and tobacco pipe in the other.
As played by Robert Downey Jr, the new Sherlock never stays still. The glass and the pipe are gone. He’d rather get in a fight than a discussion. The dude changes elaborately costumed disguises as often as he changes his mind. And to houndstooth- cap it all off, there is Holmes’s rather complicated mancrush on his long- time partner in crimebusting, Dr Watson ( Jude Law). The obligatory sequel, A Game of
Shadows, continues to mash- up and makeover Holmes to suit itself.
As before, the plot is a pinata of red herrings, dead ends and weird, action- y stuff happening for no apparent reason.
Ritchie and his cast whack away at the thing with much energy and little subtlety.
A Game of Shadows is definitely a guilty pleasure to experience at the time but perhaps difficult to remember afterwards.
I do recall some mixed business involving Russian Cossacks, anarchist terrorists, a nude Stephen Fry ( he plays Sherlock’s long- lost brother Mycroft), corrupt train conductors and Romany Gypsies.
It is in the latter group viewers will spot the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace. She plays a fortune teller whose predictive powers are, predictably, nowhere near those of Holmes.
It must be said Rapace’s Hollywood debut is a bit of a fizzer. The squeaky croak of a voice she adopts for her character is often unintelligible: a problem, given the script gives her precious little to do but talk.
The star recruit to the fold is Jared Harris, who injects the part of Holmes’s most venerated nemesis, the great Professor Moriarty, with plenty of venom.
Holmes purists will be relieved to learn that the best scene in the picture is the one element of the Sherlock legacy that has not been tampered with in any way.
When first published in the 1890s, a classic encounter between Holmes and Moriarty at the mouth of a waterfall had millions of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s loyal readers gasping for breath.
Ritchie handles the build- up to this crucial sequence brilliantly, skilfully increasing tension levels before achieving a famously intriguing pay- off. If there is to be a third instalment to the
Sherlock Holmes franchise, the standard set by this cracking scene is what Ritchie and his team should be pushing themselves to match.
ELEMENTARY: Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr have pushed sleuthing into the cool zone.