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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » January 26, 2012
Film review
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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
January 26, 2012   
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At the end of 2009, a reimagined version of the most famous private detective of all times hit cinemas, courtesy of Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), a director well known for his extravagant style. His Sherlock Holmes, played gallantly by Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Zodiac) was nothing like the calm and distinguished master of logical reasoning in the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The new Holmes was a combination of a boxer, a clown and a magician with a penchant for dressing up in a multitude of disguises. The only thing he had in common with Conan Doyle’s hero was his brilliant mind and startling powers of perception.

Fans of the classic novels were horrified at Ritchie’s creation, but the movie-going public at large could not care less and the movie, which cost $90 million to make, raked in almost $210 million in the United States alone.

Given that the closing of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film featured Professor Moriarty, the detective’s chief adversary from the novel, a sequel was inevitable. This time, stripped of the novelty factor, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a straightforward yet spectacular continuation of the first part. The year is 1891 and the malevolent Moriarty (Jared Harris—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Other Boleyn Girl) has devised a plan to stir up a war of at least pan-European proportions, no less, by organizing a string of bomb attacks and assassinations in France, Germany and Britain. The only person capable of smoking out his real intentions is, of course, Holmes himself. His closest friend Dr. Watson (Jude Law—Enemy at the Gates, Road to Perdition, Cold Mountain) begrudgingly allows himself to be dragged into the deadly intrigue, which, quite predictably, ruins his private plans, namely a stag party, a wedding and a honeymoon.

Since Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams—State of Play, Red Eye), a thief, a fraudster and Holmes’s long-time love interest whom viewers know from the first part, is despatched by Moriarty in the first quarter of the movie, Holmes and Watson find themselves a new female ally in the battle against evil. Madame Simza (Noomi Rapace—Millennium trilogy) is a Gypsy fortuneteller trying to find her missing brother, assisted by fellow Gypsies who specialize in crossing European borders without bothering with identity documents.

Holmes has another ally—his elder brother Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry—V for Vendetta, Blackadder TV series) who did not appear on screen in the first movie. Now he turns up as an éminence grise in Britain’s Foreign Office. Seeing Mycroft, you can try to imagine what living in the Holmes household must have been like, as Mycroft is just as eccentric as his brother.

The plot quickly jumps from London to Paris and over to Germany to take in a final stop near the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, a location which Conan Doyle’s readers are familiar with. This is the scene of the final clash during a peace summit of European heads of state.

Like the first movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows features astonishing cinematography by Philippe Rousselot (Constantine, Planet of the Apes, Lions for Lambs). Dark alleys, gloomy military factories, a castle in the winter scenery of the Alps, bleak forests and catacombs all form a spectacular setting for the stunts pulled off by Holmes and his friends.
Witold ¯ygulski
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