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

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - E Guide Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

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.

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