An exciting game

Second Sherlock Holmes installment builds on momentum of the first

A game of chasing and being chased is afoot.

A game of chasing and being chased is afoot.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Robert Downey Jr. and director Guy Ritchie have breathed new life into the legend of Sherlock Holmes. With this second at-bat—A Game of Shadows—they build on the momentum of the first, with a bigger caper, more exciting action sequences and quite a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure.

Downey reprises his role as the mischievous mystery-solver Holmes, and Jude Law once again plays his sidekick, Watson. The film catches up with the duo as Watson is getting ready to be married. Of course, nothing goes quite as planned, and the stag party, wedding and honeymoon are all interrupted by the film’s big mystery, which is woven quite intricately throughout.

This time around, Holmes and Watson face a noble adversary in the clever Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), who seems to have concocted a plan that will send Europe into war.

Several side characters play integral roles in helping the pair to figure out exactly what’s going on—namely Holmes’ brother, the equally quirky Mycroft (Stephen Fry), and Gypsy fortuneteller Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace). Mycroft is a dignitary of sorts, and therefore runs in quite different circles from his brother, circles that come in handy in these particular circumstances. Simza is dragged into the action to find her brother, who has somehow gotten caught up in Moriarty’s plan.

The plot is actually quite a bit more convoluted than this makes it sound. Surely the film was intended for multiple viewings, for only a genius (Holmes?) could be expected to make sense of it all after seeing it just once.

In all, A Game of Shadows is, at least to this viewer, entertainment at its finest. The acting is superb. Downey once again steals the show, but Harris plays an excellent villain, one that needs just to smile devilishly to get his point across. And Ritchie once again pumps up the action sequences—the train scenes are the best—and makes good use of his quick-cut, detail-shot technique when Holmes takes note of everything around him.

Where the first film dwelled on character development, this second installment doesn’t need to (one of the perks of being part two). And the ending, well, let’s just say it leaves plenty of room for part three. I, for one, can hardly wait.