Sherlock Holmes and the Game of Shadows (Guy Ritchie)

by Srikanth Mantravadi

Too tired to write a full fledged review.But here goes what I felt about this rip roaring Ritchie serving –

* Don’t. Don’t expect a purist’s take on Sherlock Holmes. Guy Ritchie is too incorrigible to let go of his stylistic moorings. Here too you have Ritchie style blazing action with the camera zipping around madly. Ritchie makes great use of this technique to explain/recap events quickly for the viewer. There are slo-mo sequences that seem absolutely out of place but this is one director that just refuses to grow up!

* I don’t understand why they even have to call this movie Sherlock Holmes because it has nothing, zilch, nada to do with the iconic detective apart from the name, some characters and the famous address. Holmes is a predominantly Ritchie’esque action character. Nothing more. Nothing less. Hell, they could have called it Downey Jr. and the Game of Shadows and people would have queued up equal fervour.

* Having said that, this movie is great, great fun for the most part. Downey Jr. hits top gear and his one liners, witticisms and tantrums are a joy to behold. This movie is nothing without him. He is probably the only actor who can get away with anything (Even a drag). Such effortless timing. Such rapid fire dialogue that you think somebody will get hurt.

* The movie hurtles from the start with a colourful set of characters and a plot that capably puts Downey Jr. on screen for most of the time. Ritchie’s lines are funnier here as compared to the first one. There is also more enthusiasm and vibrancy to the movie as Holmes’ literally trots across Europe.

* Hans Zimmer’s score is functional for the most part with different bars of discombobulate featuring prominently. But what blew my head was the melange of some quaintly eastern European violin riffs for an action scene that takes place at a club (Noomi Rapace’s place). The action piece was very ordinary but Zimmer elevates it with his propulsive score so much so that it seems stunning. Earworm moment!

*The movie builds on Holmes’ terrific ability to premeditate action sequences. This is taken to ecstatic levels towards the end when Holmes and Moriarty, both consummate at the skill, plan out moves and counter moves without so much as moving a hand. Rollicking stuff.

* Jude Law is surprisingly in great touch. He is not usually an impressive actor but he shows great flair for comedy and shtick here. Noomi Rapace sounds like the exotic gypsy she is, while Stephen Fry is barely tolerable as Mycroft Holmes (The scene where both the brothers attack each other with deductions is imaginatively transformed from prose to screen). Jared Harris as Moriarty is not sinister and intelligent enough. This is not merely the actor’s fault as the rivalry between Holmes and Moriarty is not gestated enough like it is done in books. Irene Adler is cruelly bumped off. The screen won’t be lit anymore by the luminous smile of McAdams. Sad smile 

* This series continues to have incredibly good set design and locations – giving the movie a magnificent period feel. The cinematography is first rate. Editing could have been tighter. There are scenes after the rambunctious first hour which seem to drag for a while.

Ritchie’s new movie is a swashbuckling adventure that is not as “deliciously complicated” as Downey Jr. puts it. But it is delicious and compelling nevertheless.