Is Guy Ritchie capable of making a coherent film? On the strength of his last few films, including his latest Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the answer is…no!
With its mangled plot, obtuse dialogue, weird comedy and implausible action, this film had me constantly asking “what the hell is going on?”.
What we can make out is that Holmes (Robert Downey Jr), Dr. Watson (Jude Law) and a gypsy woman played by the original Dragon Tattoo girl Noomi Rapace are pursuing their nemesis Professor Moriarty across 1890’s Europe while trying to work out his connection to bomb throwing anarchists.
There’s lots of tedious stuffing about, meaningless often unintelligible banter between Holmes and Watson and extravagantly edited slow-mo, video game style fight scenes. Consequently, the characters and the world they inhabit are so quirky and stylized that’s it’s very hard to connect with or care about anyone or anything in this film.
Occasionally, though, Holmes does the thing we trudged along to this movie to see in the first place, that is, employ his great detective skills including his super sensitivity to crime-scene clues and awesome powers of inductive reasoning. Unfortunately, these occur in disconnected set pieces so there’s little sense of Holmes carefully unravelling a mystery.
As Holmes, Downey is as affected as Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow but with an even worse English accent which is really jarring. Still, Downey gives the character enough charisma and playful wit to make him vaguely enjoyable. Jude law is adequate as Watson but hardly a commanding screen presence and he fails to make Watson a convincing or engaging scholar. Rapace manages to bring some of her dragon tattoo girl intensity to her role while Jared Harris is fairly sinister as Moriarty. The most memorable performance in the whole film, though, comes from Stephen Fry as Holmes eccentric, nudist brother who has a weird phobia about shaking hands even when he’s clothed.
While the story might leave you scratching your head, the film is at least good to look at with stunning albeit CGI vistas of 19th century Paris and London.
If you have zero attention span and don’t care about one scene connecting with another you might enjoy the indulgent visuals in this film. Those who want a clear, interesting story and memorable dialogue will be running for the exits well before the end.
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