Is Game of Shadows Sherlock’s greatest challenge?

Of all the literary characters in the world, there are a few that are so classic, so brilliantly unique, that they are recreated over and over again in story after story and film after film because we simply cannot get enough of them. Sherlock Holes, it goes without saying, is certainly one of those characters. The genius of the detective created by Sir Arthur Cohan Doyle over a century ago had so enraptured the readers of that day that when he decided to end the series by killing Holmes off in “The Adventure of the Final Problem”, he received hate mail and death threats calling him a murderer (In essence, Sherlock Holmes was the Edward Cullen of the late 1800’s). Doyle was forced to write more stories “reviving” Holmes with a rather far-fetched tale that his death was all “part of the plan.” Fans of today are experiencing a similar shock with the death of Holmes in the popular BBC television series Sherlock. But the BBC weren’t the only Brits dusting off the deerstalker hat (although neither use it), as two years ago Guy Ritchie gave us a glorious revival of the famed detective of Baker Street with renewed superstar Robert Downey Jr in the title role and Talented actor Jude Law taking up the important role as sidekick and best friend Dr. Watson. Now Ritchie gives us the second installment in his series and he really can deliver a quality product.

This film sort of starts off in an odd place, seeing as the last film ended with Holmes searching for the elusive Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), who was only seen in deep shadow and spoken of in hushed tones, a mysterious and unknown entity. However in this film, Holmes knows exactly who Moriarty is, knows his entire history and has even sat in on a few of the Professor’s lectures. In fact, he knows him so well that he drops in on the man for a spot of tea to discuss their opposing views of the law. Sherlock’s biggest problem with Moriarty is that even though with his brilliant mind that misses nothing, knows all of Moriarty’s evil schemes and various crimes, he fumes that the professor is too smart to leave any form of evidence that the police or Scotland Yard can use to prove it. Having unraveled the basics of the villain’s new plot, he discovers that he needs one man, a gypsy, to lay all of Moriarty’s crimes at his feet. However, the only connection he can use to find this man is through his sister, Simza (Noomi Rapace of the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tatoo films), a fortune-teller. So he takes her on a cross-country trip across europe to locate her brother and stop Moriarty once and for all ( after he rescues Dr. Watson of course, did I forget to mention that Moriarty put out a hit on Holmes best friend? During his honeymoon no less, the fiend).

I love Guy Ritchie as a director and this is a marvelous film to watch, but I think there are a few continuity issues between the first and second films. As I mentioned before, Holmes seems to have gained a lot of information about Moriarty in a very short period of time (in the last film, Watson was moving out in order to get married and in this film is the wedding, my guess is that a year has passed at the most). Another missing tidbit is the remote technology that Moriarty stole in the last feature which seems glaringly void of mention here. It seemed so important at the time. The other issue I have is Moriarty himself. While Harris does a great job playing Downy’s mental equal, with the thick beard he comes off as being rather old and hardly the “boxing champion of Cambridge” the film claims him to be (this could be a clever ruse to throw us off guard, Ritchie’s good at that kind of thing). In all though, the film is brilliant at placing hidden clues throughout that only Holmes sees, and when he mentions them you wish you could rewind to see how you missed it. Sherlock does seem a little off his game in this film, but then, when facing an equal, it is difficult to remain superior.

Final Word: Should See in Mystery Action.