GUY Ritchie sticks to the formula he used in his first rendering of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous literary detective; it's again a 21st century approach to a 19th century story, with plenty of slick effects and outrageous action, all peppered with smart quips.
A Game of Shadows might still be a crime thriller, but Ritchie has taken it up a notch with a sequel that is more action-based and less cerebral than the original. Behind all the bullets flying in slow motion is a simple plot about Holmes' nemesis, criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) trying to manipulate Europe into war, so he can profit from the impending conflict.
Sherlock is the only person on to Moriarty, and his obsession with outwitting his arch-enemy and the possibility he may be outwitted makes him rather unstable. Robert Downey jnr amps up the camp unorthodox detective routine, with Dr Watson (Law) there to keep him on his meds.
Ritchie gets the chance to deliver each fight sequence twice as Sherlock, in a meditative frame of mind, likes to visualise each fight - in slow motion - before it begins. So each scrap is essentially the same fight done over, which becomes tiresome.
Elsewhere, Ritchie's boyish sense of humour pops up. There's Stephen Fry's random nude scene as Sherlock's brother Mycroft, Watson's disastrous stag do and wedding, his new wife being thrown off a train, and Sherlock's habit of making
himself invisible by dressing in a body stocking matching the decor of a room. All good fun, but none of this adds much mystery or intrigue.
Rachel McAdams appears briefly before she's rather unceremoniously cast off and replaced with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace. She plays the only other main female role of Madam Simza Heron, a gypsy who helps Holmes work out what Moriarty is up to. She takes everything a lot more seriously than her co-stars but handles the action admirably.
As far as fun and slickly shot action films go, A Game of Shadows delivers; although traditional fans may find themselves struggling to recognise their hero. Yes, it's a rollicking ride but it also borders on the ridiculous, especially as Downey jnr pushes his character's quirks to, and at times beyond, the limit.
Cast: Jude Law, Robert Downey jnr, Noomi Rapace
Director: Guy Ritchie
Running time: 129 mins
Rating: M (violence)
Verdict: Same again, but it's not quite so entertaining second time around
Watch the trailer ...
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