In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the drama begins when the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead from an apparent suicide. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) knows that the official report isn't true and wants his soon to be married friend Dr. Watson (Jude Law) to join him for one last case. Holmes believes that the prince was murdered by an evil genius named James Moriarty (Jared Harris) and that he was only a small piece of the puzzle. He knows that the professor can match him intellectually and this may be his most difficult case, because he's facing someone who has the ability to stay one step ahead of him.
There's a lot of good action to enjoy here with all of the fights, shootouts and explosions an action fan could want. That's great and all, but A Game of Shadows suffers from weak material that's empty for the most part. The story didn't have any real value and the majority of the humor wasn't anywhere near funny. At certain points, A Game of Shadows was just so stagnant due to the lack of quality in the script. There were times where I thought the movie would take off and then it would just hit a wall. In never got into a pace because of that and what we got was a disjointed translation of what they probably wanted on screen.
About half way through the movie I realized that I didn't even know what the actual story was about. I spent a good portion of the movie after that trying to figure out if I had missed something. I started to understand that I didn't actually miss anything. They didn't really try to explain anything to the audience and we found out when Sherlock Holmes decided to let us know. Since this is supposed to be a mystery, you would think that they would leave the audience some clues so we could try to figure some of the stuff out ourselves, but that didn't happen. The way they structured the movie made it incoherent and messy.
The movie wasn't great by any means, but the performances from Downey Jr. and Law were top-notch. Because of their professionalism and talent, these actors saved the movie and at least made it watchable. Just about all of the actors were good, but I wish they would have been given more to work with. That's especially true for Noomi Rapace. She had very little to do throughout the film and I started wondering if they just included her to add another female character since Rachel McAdams only makes a cameo appearance.
The only actor that I really had a problem with was Jared Harris. He didn't do a bad job or anything, but I don't think he was a good fit for the role that he was given. He was supposed to be the antagonist of the film, but he didn't feel like a bad guy to me. You usually want your villains to have villanous qualities and a sense of evil surrounding him, but those attributes were virtually non-existent with his character. He might have made for the safest and most neutral villain that I've ever seen.
I think that Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows had potential to be so much better than it ended up being. As much as I enjoyed the fights, shootouts, the witty banter and the great ending, I would have liked this movie a lot more if it been done using a better story and a villain that actually seemed like a villain. Maybe they'll fix those issues and add them to all of the positives that they already have and put them into the next one. If they do, I'll gladly watch it without hesitation.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Robert Downey Jr.
Film Length: 129 minutes
Release Date: December 16, 2011
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures