Ritchie, Downey and Law are back with another manic romp that feels more like a Victorian James Bond adventure than anything about the famed Conan Doyle characters. While it has the same comical energy, it's not quite as fun as the first go-round.
Brilliant Cambridge professor Moriarty (Harris) is up to no good, taking on Holmes (Downey) by messing with those around him, including his girlfriend-nemesis Irene (McAdams) and his partner Watson (Law), who plans to retire after his upcoming wedding to Mary (Reilly). But nothing goes as planned, and Holmes and Watson are propelled into a vicious game of intrigue that sends them to Paris where they team up with a sexy gypsy (Rapace). They also get help from Holmes' brother Mycroft (Fry) as they head to a climactic showdown in Switzerland.
Who needs logic when the action is this wildly exhilarating? And much of it is drastically slowed-down so Ritchie can show us Holmes' powers of deduction as well as whizzing bullets, explosions and other cool-looking things. The dialog is the same mix of faux intelligent banter and shameless innuendo, which gives the actors something to play with, especially as Downey and Law amusingly move beyond bromance into Brokeback territory.
But we do need some logic. This plot is so messy that it never engages us. And as it builds to a climax in a crazy cliff-perched Alpine castle, we begin to lose interest. Even with the bigger action, zingy dialog and colourful characters, this film barely works up any steam. Whenever Holmes isn't being mischievous, Downey actually looks bored. And Rapace is so sidelined that it's difficult to understand why she's here at all; the filmmakers never give her anything interesting to do.
It's a shame the screenwriters never push the characters further. But at least Ritchie keeps things moving briskly, filling the screen with comical nuttiness and big-gun mayhem. Even if Moriarty makes no sense (would someone this intelligent resort to such a ridiculous plan to make his fortune?), Harris adds heft in the role, including some jagged chemistry with Downey. Let's just hope that the requisite third film lets us in on the joke.
Run time: 129 mins
In Theaters: Friday 16th December 2011
Box Office USA: $186.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $334.6M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Silver Pictures, Wigram Productions, Lin Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 121 Rotten: 82
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Guy Ritchie
Producer: Susan Downey, Dan Lin, Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram
Screenwriter: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law as Dr. John Watson, Jared Harris as Professor James Moriarty, Noomi Rapace as Madam Simza Heron, Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan, Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson, Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade, Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes, William Houston as Clarky, Affif Ben Badra as Tamas, Paul Anderson as Colonel Sebastian Moran, Wolf Kahler as Doctor Hoffmanstahl, Iain Mitchell as Auctioneer, Jack Laskey as Carruthers, Patricia Slater as Shush Club Maitre D', Karima Adebibe as Shush Club Maitre D', Richard Cunningham as Businessman, Marcus Shakesheff as Hashisheen, Mark Sheals as Cock Fight Referee, George Taylor as University Student, Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Thierry Neuvic as Claude Ravache, Laurentiu Possa as Rene Heron
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