Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the legendary fast-talking intellectual sleuth Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie‘s sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Jude Law also returns as Holmes’s faithful best friend and sidekick Dr. Watson. This time, the two travel to exotic places like Paris and Switzerland with the sole purpose of taking down the villainous Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), an influential scholar and close friend to the British prime minister. Joining them in their journey is Noomi Rapace, the Swedish actress who became an international success thanks to her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; comedian Stephen Fry plays Holmes’s snobby older brother. Let’s see if this blockbuster is worth your jolly golly time this Holiday season.

The Players:

  • Director: Guy Ritchie
  • Writer: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, and Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, and Noomi Rapace
  • Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot

The Plot:

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson take on a new criminal mastermind, Professor Moriarty. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes concludes that the prince has been the victim of a murder designed to look like a suicide by Professor Moriarty.  Holmes and the Doctor set out to expose Professor Moriarty for what he really is, but he proves to be a fierce adversary.

The Good:

  • Robert Downey Jr. Is A Star: The true star of this movie is RDJ. With his charm and wit, RDJ’s Holmes keeps this movie alive. Whether he’s dressed in drag or covered in dirt, he is always entertaining to watch.
  • The Sleuth And His Sidekick: RDJ and Jude Law have mastered their brother-like relationship on the screen. They know each other better than they know themselves. In this sequel, Holmes is sad – though he denies it – to see his best friend and partner in crime-solving get hitched. Unfortunately, because of the lack of story (see below), that’s all we see. The film doesn’t explore how things will be now that Dr. Watson is married. Sometimes the two talk about their future, but these conversations are overshadowed by plot and action. Still, the chemistry is there. RDJ may be the star, but behind every great detective, there’s a great sidekick. Jude Law brings out the best in RDJ.
  • Noomi Rapace: Sherlock Holmes is Rapace’s first American movie. It’s endearing watching her play with two Hollywood big shots. Despite being a relatively newcomer, Rapace never allows herself to be overshadowed by RDJ or Jude Law. In part, this is thanks to Ritchie who didn’t cast Rapace as a replacement for Rachel McAdams, instead she plays a badass gypsy who needs no looking after. Here, she’s doing the saving.
  • Professor Moriarty: Although Jared Harris isn’t as charming as our hero, he’s the perfect match – intelligent, arrogant and, he’s even got an evil grin.

The So-So:

  • Clever Cinematography: Throughout the movie, there’s this recurring sequence where Holmes calculates the outcome of a certain fight seconds before it happens. While this is a unique way to play out a fighting scene, it could be a bit distracting and insulting. The big problem with this clever cinematography is that it’s not just showing us what is going to happen, but Holmes is describing his every move. Filmmaking 101: Show, don’t tell. Yes, the slow motion, attention to detail and loud sound effects look and sound amazing, but by the end, Ritchie’s method is exhausted. He’s spoon-feeding his audience and that’s insulting. He doesn’t allow his audience the chance to figure anything out.

The Bad:

  • They Forgot About The Story: Despite the great performances in the movie, it’s sad to say that each character, with the exception of Holmes, is mostly used to move the plot forward. At a glance, Sherlock Holmes has some great topics both political and personal, but none of these are ever explored. It’s always about solving the murder and getting rid of the bad guy.


Sherlock Holmes is a movie for the masses – there’s exotic locations, tons of action and a charming and witty hero. Though some of us may want more story than plot, let’s face it, 70% of the box office revenue will come from overseas audiences where plot is king. Does Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows entertain? You bet it does.

Rating: 6.5/10

See Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows in theaters on December 16, 2011.

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Will you watch Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows?