Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

From the December 15, 2011 edition

When director Guy Ritchie turned Sherlock Holmes into a fist-wielding action hero in 2009, critics cried foul. And audiences cried for more.

I thought the critics were mostly missing the point and missing out on the fun, as we critics are wont to do.

Ritchie’s sequel “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” delivers more mindless, stylized action, sharp-tongued banter perfect for its cast and a plot that mostly exists to prop up the rest.

Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) now matches wits with his longtime literary nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), in an elaborate plot involving anarchist bombings and the destabilization of European powers.

Joining Holmes is his dear Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), on the verge of getting married and perpetually on the verge of being harried by Holmes’ antics.

Ritchie cranks out more unabashed popcorn fare here. It’s infectious and fun, even if the British accents are taking the edge off of the dumbed-down Holmes.

Downey revels in the manic tendencies of Ritchie’s version of Holmes and enjoys a hysterical Holmes-Watson bromance with Law.

The crackle and pop of the dialogue cover the cracks in a sometimes baffling plot — too often lazily advanced through one of Holmes’ deductions.

But, like the first film, it’s a tremendous amount of fun. Holiday audiences will have a blast, and joyless critics will probably be handing out more lumps of coal.