5 – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
After Sherlock Holmes’ great success at the box office, a sequel was more than inevitable, and thus Guy Ritchie returned to the franchise that helped rejuvenate his wavering career with A Game of Shadows. With many sequels under the Hollywood machine, bigger and bolder must mean better, and, more often than not, it isn’t, and this film naturally follows suit.
The joys of the first one are omitted here, notably the genius of Downey’s titular character, his relationship with Watson (Jude Law), and the plot itself. Holmes is less a genius with lightning fast reflexes and digital style decoding of the environment, and more of a genius relying much on convenience, coincidence, and circumstance. Moreover, the introduction of his brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) adds very little, other than to highlight that someone is smarter than the legendary detective – though this is further pointless once his adversary Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) uses similar deciphering techniques to partially outwit Holmes.
Holmes and Watson’s case follows the similar ‘one last case’ trajectory that feels significantly more forced than its predecessor. While the actors maintain their on-screen rapport, their banter and necessity for each other is more for the plot than much else.
Ritchie maintains the visuals from the predecessor – the murky, soot covered Victorian England, and the slow-motion motif during Holmes’ internal-planning of his fighting mechanics – but these cannot save a film from what is an arbitrary sequel to a film that wrapped up nicely. This film even goes as far as to kill off Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in the opening act solely for Holmes to be motivated, and to introduce a different female Simza (Noomi Rapace). It’s the same, only much, much less fun.