Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 1/6/12
Director: Guy Ritchie
Music: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams

"I see everything. That is my curse."

Director Guy Ritchie revisits the world of Sherlock Holmes to recount the final showdown between Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his ultimate nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). The devious Moriarty is behind a series of bombings and assassinations which push France and Germany to the brink of war. As Holmes closes in on him, Moriarty decides to put Dr. Watson (Jude Law) and his new bride in harms way, which forces Watson to cancel his honeymoon and begrudgingly help Holmes in putting Moriarty out of commission. Together with the aid of a gypsy woman named Simza (Noomi Rapace), they follow Moriarty to a peace conference in Switzerland which leads to a one-on-one showdown between the two masterminds to decide the fate of the world.

It's a fun and entertaining ride that features some very interesting and unconventional cinematography. You can really see a lot of Ritchie's visual flourishes on display, for better or worse. The visual effects are quite good, and the sets and costumes are exquisite. The fight choreography is excellent, although some scenes are spoiled by poor camerawork and invasive editing. I also noticed some very strange focus and depth of field issues that were a bit distracting. Robert Downey Jr. gives another delightfully eccentric performance as Holmes, and Jude Law is wonderful. However, this film is a lot more homoerotic than the first film, as the two of them exchange longing glances and bicker like an old married couple. Moriarty is an excellent adversary and Jared Harris delivers an appropriately sinister, and slightly psychotic performance. Unfortunately, awkward and misplaced humor derails the already disjointed narrative, which makes it hard to follow the story. The contrived ending is also a bit disappointing and spoils the impact of the climax. But apart from that, it's a gorgeous film full of lively characters and exciting action pieces.