First of all I must admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the first Downey Sherlock Holmes movie, and I’ve always loved the many incarnations of Sherlock Holmes, especially so with Steven Moffat’s Sherlock on the BBC. I was never too big on Holmes as boxing/martial arts champ, though I did like how true to the character if he was to be like that he would see the fight even before it happened. Even with that Downey and Law saved what would have been a mediocre film and made it just a little better. My huge problem with the movie was more the chemistry between that version’s Watson and Holmes. The whole movie felt like Watson as just annoyed at having to be around and Holmes and putting up with his abusive demeanor for now reason. I felt no respect from Watson for Holmes and it just felt like their relationship was forced. This is why I walked into the press screening for Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows with no high expectations and in the first few minutes of Act 1 I was beginning to feel justified as such.
Again the relationship of Watson and Holmes seemed just as baffling to me, and now Holmes was acting as Watson’s best man, from the interactions of the first movie I was amazed that Holmes was even to be invited to Watson’s wedding let alone be his best man. This coming to a head at Watson’s “stag” party which was just a ploy to get Watson to assist in solving another mystery he had come across trying to prove Professor Moriarty was a master criminal. Why this military man would put up with this was beyond me, but finally I think the writers realized what was wrong and showed us that not only does Holmes care, by getting Watson to his wedding on time, though in dubious condition but that he truly respected and cared for Watson even though he doesn’t show it. This is when finally Downey’s Holmes became a three-dimensional character for me. Almost tragic, when after the wedding he enjoys the site of the new couple from the shadows, place that he inhabits due to the way his mind works, this is the Holmes I love.
Jared Harris as Moriarty is absolutely brilliant in his role, and in true American fashion, and to make him an equal to Holmes, he is also a boxing champion so that the two’s epic “battle of wits” can take place at the closing of the film. I love the way they show Moriarty’s ability to misdirect and outwit Holmes early on in the film and just keep him down as the underdog in this showing. Truly the writing and direction have vastly improved from the 2009 film.
Now to the best part of the film for me, Noomi Rapace debut to a Hollywood film’s audience as the main female lead. If you have not seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy you are missing one of Sweden’s best film work and you need to watch all these on Netflix’s instant queue. She is one of the best actresses I’ve seen in years and I can’t wait to see more of her. Though her part is small and they don’t give her too much to do, she still manages to still the scene from Downey again and again.
My last favorite aspect of the movie is the great Stephen Fry, I love this man with a passion. He is other great actor in the film for me. Finally Mycroft has life breathed into him. He is so funny and so essential to making this film work that I just loved every scene he was in. It was a good break from the seriousness that surrounds the rest of the film and makes for some breakout laughs, that was best captured in the closing credits.
This movie in every way is ten times the movie that the first Sherlock Holmes was in 2009. This is the film that Holmes deserved from Hollywood the first time around. I