A nice coincidence that the sequel would pop up on TV not long after I’d recently re-watched Sherlock Holmes. With the first so fresh in the mind it seemed like a great time to compare the two.
Turns out the comparison doesn’t work out well for A Game of Shadows. There are some great parts, but overall it’s lacking the same energy and just isn’t as tightly screwed together.
None of the problems can be laid at the feet of Downey Jr. and Law, who continue to make a cracking double act. The banter and history that exists between them is present and still very entertaining. In fact, they’ve got far better chemistry than most couples in cinema. It’s constantly pointed out to Watson that he’s having more fun with Holmes than he would be on his Honeymoon, and he can’t argue it. It could be a film of these two on their own honeymoon, or reading a phone book together; it would still be fun.
Jared Harris makes for a decent Moriarty; a thin layer of politeness hiding a very threatening persona. I can’t shake the feeling that he may have been introduced too soon, as a lot of the battle between him and Holmes seems to have taken place before the film starts. Seeing only the climax doesn’t sit right with me. On the flip side we do get to see Holmes out-thought; watching him walk right into it and have to admit it is interesting.
McAdams isn’t in the film for very long which I found both surprising and disappointing. I kept expecting her to come back. Maybe it was more hopeful thinking, as I much preferred her to Noomi Rapace.
The story meanders, picking up noticeably when it’s just the the two leads, or whenever Holmes’ brother Mycroft is involved. Stephen Fry really is wonderful in his indifference to others. Moriarty comes across as mainly interested in money, whilst the Gyspy based section feels like a lazy caricature.
With some great set pieces and the continuing bromance between the leads, A Game of Shadows is still a decent watch, it just doesn’t hit as high as it’s predecessor.