Sherlock Holmes
dir Guy Ritchie
scr Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg
prd Susan Downey, Dan Lin, Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram
with Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, James Fox, Hans Matheson, William Hope, Geraldine James, Robert Maillet, Bronagh Gallagher
release US 25.Dec.09, UK 26.Dec.09
09/UK Warner 2h08
Sherlock Holmes
Another fine mess: Downey and Law

mcadams strong reilly
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
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Sherlock Holmes Raucous, rough energy infuses this film from start to finish, carrying us along even when the slightly over-egged script starts to feel somewhat slender. And it's the terrific chemistry between Downey and Law that makes the film worth seeing.

In Victorian London, private investigator Sherlock Holmes (Downey) is about to lose his partner John Watson (Law), who's moving out to marry his fiancee (Reilly). But the case they've just finished, involving a series of secret-society murders carried out by Lord Blackwood (Strong), just won't end. Now Holmes' ex Irene (McAdams) is on the scene as well, and things are getting increasingly freaky with more murders and a conspiracy that could lead to a takeover of the whole government. But Holmes' fierce powers of observation are on the case.

The producers blast new life into fusty cinematic stalwarts with their canny choice of director and stars. In many ways this feels more faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle's stories than the dry, cerebral films we're used to. Downey perfectly combines the character's edgy physicality, brainy powers of deduction and sardonic wit. And he and Law are like an hilarious bickering married couple that has lived together just a little too long.

No one else in the cast quite registers. McAdams and Reilly at least play strong-minded women, while Strong glowers satanically from the shadows and Marsan (as the chief inspector) tuts amusingly. The script is mostly smoke and mirrors, weaving in all manner of Holmes' lore, from the original story details to playful references to previous film incarnations (although Holmes never says "elementary", and he never wears a deerstalker).

And if the script isn't nearly as smart as it thinks it is, at least it contains a few nifty twists, including one of the more enjoyable resolutions in recent blockbuster memory. But what we're here for are the fireworks between Downey and Law, a couple of feisty-sexy women and Ritchie-isms like nasty slo-mo fight sequences, witty editing and suggestive lighting. He also offers plenty of refreshingly abrasive vigour to go with the cool effects and a zingy Hans Zimmer score. Bring on the next case.

cert 12 themes, violence 13.Dec.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall