For the third film in a row, Guy Ritchie has proven that he’s back in fine form. ‘A Game of Shadows’, the follow-up to Ritchie’s 2009 ‘Sherlock Holmes’ flick, magnifies everything that worked in the first and corrects everything that didn’t. It’s smart, witty, fun and saturated with wickedly stylized action.
Set shortly after the death of Lord Blackwood in the first film, ‘Game of Shadows’ picks up with Sherlock (Robert Downey, Jr.) hot on the trail of the mysterious Professor Moriarty, his equally intelligent counterpart on the evil end of the spectrum. Sherlock knows that Moriarty is up to some sinister work, and Moriarty knows that Sherlock is the only man capable of foiling his plot, so the two begin a cat and mouse game of wits.
Where the first ‘Sherlock Holmes’ featured a terrorist threat on London, the impending doom of Moriarty’s plan in ‘Game of Shadows’ extends to all over Europe. The stakes are much higher this time, even for our central characters. Since Moriarty has nothing to lose, he threatens the lives of Sherlock’s friends and associates. Sherlock has the double duty of keeping them safe and shutting down Moriarty.
The fantastic newcomers to the sequel include Jared Harris as the menacing Moriarty, Noomi Rapace as a helpful gypsy, and Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s equally zany brother, Mycroft Holmes. All of the other returning characters are played by the original cast – Jude Law, Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan – even if some of them are just small cameo roles.
The action of ‘Game of Shadows’ never lets up (especially during the ‘Matrix’-esque “bullet-time” forest barrage) and is perfectly blended with a complex plot. Like a game of chess, you must put your full attention into this film. If not, you might get lost. Better than the first, ‘Game of Shadows’ is sure to please the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ fans as well win over some who didn’t like the previous film.