“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” the second installment in the series, churns like a lump of moldy dough sitting in the pit of your stomach, trying ever so hard to be digested.
Deduction: Sherlock Holmes’ return is a highly stylized, amplified cacophony of dreck.
Guy Ritchie’s first “Sherlock Holmes” was a feast for the eyes and mind, with intelligent plot lines, semi-layered characters and fine acting. There was a sense of pride in taking on the world’s greatest detective.
But all that was successful before is absent from this overblown, nonsensical sequel. The film is so dull it kills the desire to ever go back and rewatch the original.
The crime committed here? A dumb screenplay. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, both terrific actors, are not to blame. They’re just victims to the lack of substance they have to work with. The pair deliver empty dialogue, tell stale jokes and run amok trying to save Europe from inevitable war.
But unlike the original, who cares?
Holmes here is less detective and more Wile E. Coyote; he dresses in drag, rides a ridiculously small pony highlighted by sweeping cinematography, and dies multiple times. Note to filmmakers: do not waste our time on sentimental death scenes for titular characters in franchise films.
Finally for “Game of Shadows,” Holmes is pitted against his arch nemesis: the insidious criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Holmes fans will be disappointed by a great many things with the film, but the terribly weak and nearly non-existent battle of wits between Holmes and Moriarty takes the prize.
“Game of Shadows” presents itself more as an action-adventure flick, laced with kinetic editing and explosions, than the game of cat and mouse that made the first film appealing.
Admittedly, the explosive chase scene through the woods with Ritchie’s signature stylized slow motion is really cool. But style killed substance in “Game of Shadows” and it’s doubtful that even the world’s greatest detective can find the clue to salvage the franchise.