Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney
Principal cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace and Jared Harris
Release date: 16th December 2011.
Following a succession of bombings throughout the major cities of Europe and the prospect of war across the continent as governments clash, Baker Street’s eccentric and troubled detective, Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.), becomes lost amidst a tangled web of conspiracy theories all connected to the dealings of brilliant academic and political confidant Professor James Moriarty (Harris).
Obsessions that will witness the erstwhile detective play a deadly game of cat and mouse with his new nemesis as both Holmes and the newly wedded Dr. John Watson (Law) race across borders to prevent war.
Sherlock Holmes (2009) saw Guy Ritchie reinvent Arthur Conan Doyle’s eccentric Victorian sleuth as a knuckle dusting action man tailored for a modern audience whilst incorporating the latest CGI imagery to recreate the grim and murky setting of London during the 1890’s. But perhaps the key to the success of the movie was the buddy humour and inspired casting of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.
The success of the first instalment ensures that there’s more confidence second time around and even more eccentricities on show from both the leads whilst the director’s decision to take influences from Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem allows the new escapade to play out on a larger canvas that includes not just London but France, Germany, Switzerland and the prospect of war in Europe.
The tried and trusted double act of Downey Jr. and Law return once again as Holmes and Watson whilst their comedic odd couple bickering is given an added dimension by the marriage of the good doctor to fiancÃ© Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) and the introduction of some risquÃ© Victorian era cross dressing.
Law’s straight laced action man is again paired off nicely with Downey Jr.’s increasingly eccentric and sometimes socially inept detective, the latter coming into his own amidst the deadly mind games played out against the scheming Professor.
Harris makes for an exceptionally ghoulish Moriarty, complete with a love of meat hook torture and the strains of German opera, the latest incarnation of possibly the best arch nemesis placed on page or screen does not disappoint as the actor portrays the villain as an individual totally devoid of any morality, a point ultimately realised by Rachel McAdams in a returning cameo as the doomed fortune hunting heroine Irene Adler.
Stephen Fry is also on hand as the detective’s eccentric brother and government aide, Mycroft Holmes, incorporating a touch of Oscar Wilde and moments of irreverent humour, Fry’s interpretation of the character also leaves the audience in no doubt about the eccentricity running through the Holmes clan.
Elsewhere we have Noomi Rapace in full gypsy attire and femme fatale mode as Madame Simza Heron, although initially intriguing as a character, her role for the most part plays second fiddle to the bickering bromance of Holmes and Watson throughout the second act, only to come into her own again as the film enters it compelling end game.
And it is literally a cliff hanging end game that is wonderfully atmospheric, drawn out and suspenseful whilst incorporating an assassin, a chess board and the fate of nations that does justice to the wonderful characters and stories created by Conan Doyle.
If there is one drawback to Ritchie’s stylishly high octane second instalment, it’s that on first viewing there seems to be too much on show, too much kinetic energy and just too much for the viewer to take in during one sitting.
There is no doubt that much like its acclaimed predecessor, this current instalment begs for a repeated viewing and that amidst the chaotic mixture of fights, chases, bickering, romance, suspense, thrills, conspiracy theories and the wonderfully envisioned era of the 1890’s lies a highly entertaining movie.
But just enjoy the ride and let Holmes solve the riddles for you.
A highly enjoyable and sometimes chaotic second instalment of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes is highlighted by a standout and macabre performance from Harris as perhaps the greatest arch nemesis created.