The unedited, correction appended, review of this post was published 8th January 2012, in Images on Sunday (Dawn Newspaper), under our film review column “Animadversion”. An online link is at the end of the post.
A Game, Preposterously Bombastic
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is as subtle as a vision of an angry flaming phoenix riding the wave of Armageddon. It is chaos, blitzed and revved up by adrenaline. Depending on whether you’re into relishing salubrious amount of big-screen apocalypse, regardless of its state or respect to its origins, then this grossly reimagined Holmes for the 21st century audience is for you. Maybe.
One thing though, “Game of Shadows”, again directed by the overly kinetic Guy Ritchie, definitely believes in enunciating its subject – Anarchism. James Moriarty (Jared Harris), Sherlock Holmes one-true villain, introduced as a shadowy figure in the last Holmes, is a benefactor for global war. It takes Holmes about an hour – and a series of action sequences that are a mind-numbing attack on the senses – to clue that Moriarty has been secretly industrializing and rationing weapons. He plans to make a killing, in the literal sense of the world.
So much happens, so soon, that it may be a good idea to have an aspirin or two nearby when watching.
I, quite frankly, love big, meaty, chaotic blockbusters if they are shrewdly made, and “Game of Shadows” is nothing if not shrewd. Guy Ritchie really knows how to handle Judgment Day. Bullets, bombs and haymakers barrage the screen without as much as a breather for more than 50% of the film. The remaining 50% continues fostering Holmes and Watson’s bro-mance.
Robert Downey Jr., playing Holmes, is even more crazy-eccentric than last time, and his anarchic haphazard nature has rubbed off on Jude Law’s Watson. Their relationship has progressed into an embrangled 30-year marriage. The ones where spouses can’t stand the sight of each other yet will stand firm in adversities.
Like a hard-headed refused woman (Downey Jr. milks this part dry), Holmes finds time to ruin Watson’s bachelor party and honeymoon – of course, there’s always an ulterior motive woven into the screenplay; Still sometimes (read: mostly), Holmes actions come out as premeditated spite. Every obstacle that Holmes drags an involuntary Watson into has a connected action set-piece.
And are they woozy!
For instance: in one of the films many sped-up/slow-motion sequences that give us insight on his deduction skills, Holmes tells Watson to wait for the perfect moment when a singular bullet would jam the firing mechanism of a Gatling gun, laying waste to the train compartment they’re riding. Watson can then take out the assaulter with a single shot from three compartments away. Holmes calculation is so precision-timed that he actually counts down seconds before the guns’ mechanism actually jams. Meanwhile their cubicle is steadily torn down with massive, deafening gunfire.
The preposterousness is sensational, because Holmes computation of time and elements works without fail. He has little regard for unknown forces jumping his plan, and this act quite simply fractures the fragile sensibility of logic. Once upon a time, I saw a cartoon where one of the characters actually reads a copy of the script and foul-plays the villain by the end of the episode. Holmes may have a copy of the script stuffed in his clothes someplace.
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry (as Holmes also-eccentric older brother), Kelly Reilly and Rachel McAdams. Produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin; Written by: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney, based on the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Released by Warner Bros. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is rated PG-13. There’s enough mayhem here to curb one’s enthusiasm for Holmes, until the third part releases two years down the line.
The published version online is:
The review looks like this on paper: