I had no prior knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes stories going into seeing either Sherlock Holmes or Sherlock 2, so I was a tabula rasa. The only thing I knew of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is that Holmes was the master at the art of deduction, and Dr. Watson is his apprentice. Those were my preconceived notions.
Little did I know, however, that Sherlock Holmes would retell a cherished, antiquated, storied hero into an action super-person that the mass of American society could consume as quickly as a the common person shuffles their iPod.
I always worry about sequels. Think of a sequel to any of your favorite movies. They are, for the most part, a lackluster affair. Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom. X2. The Matrix: Reloaded. Sherlock 2 faces the task of at least equaling its predecessor in terms of entertainment value.
The question is, my dear Watson, how does it fare?
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a fast-paced, non-stop action romp that propels the viewer into a confusing, yet satisfying web of storylines.
Nowadays, stumbling onto a movie with an eclectic diversity of characters with diverging plot lines is a rare truffle. As simple as each of the characters in the movie are, their archetypes are already ingrained into our psyches, mostly due to the superb acting of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. That’s not to say Downy’s acting wasn’t without its flaws, however, as his accent seemed to slip from time to time. The highlight of his performance is, without a doubt, his mastery of awkward facial expressions. He’s taken Holmes, the detective, and turned him into Holmes, the swashbuckler. Give thanks to Johnny Depp and Pirates of the Caribbean for the accepted, but somehow humorous, love of inebriated heroes.
The plot gives the viewer pieces of a story that, until it’s conclusion, is somewhat confusing. The movie progresses in a steadfast manner as it throws bits and pieces of information that lead the viewer slowly, but surely, into understanding the motivations of both the protagonist and antagonist.
A few laughs along the way break up the intense, seemingly consistent action. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those looking for an action flick will find just that in Sherlock 2. Those looking for a calm, mystery/suspense, well, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
One thing that stood out to me the most was the inclusion of more phantom-cam shots. That was probably my favorite thing about the first film, and the inclusion of at least a half-dozen more of these scenes brought me delight. Once the second phantom-cam scene occurred, I wondered if it would’ve been overkill. It wasn’t. Every phantom-cam set piece was masterfully designed, with the slowing/quickening of time a meticulously thought out ballet.
For a moment, even if it was just for a second, I thought I was along side the characters of the story. The visual settings are so expansive and detailed that it really draws the viewer into the world of Holmes.
The fight scenes are a treat for anyone familiar with the parry-check system, as Holmes’ fighting style seems to completely derive itself from the craft. If not, it’s still entertaining to watch him plot out his method of attack like a chess master hungry for a checkmate.
At the end of the day I have to ask myself, would I watch this movie again? I thought about it, and through a turbulent time of derision, I decided…
Sherlock 2 was entertaining. There’s no denying that. However, I never was engrossed into the plot as I thought I should’ve been, nor did I grow emotionally invested in any of the characters. It became a roller coaster that never really went on the incline, and it’s because of this lack of dynamic that detours me from watching this movie again. It’s worth one watch, sure, but the non-stop action genre really needs to learn how to take a breath once in a while.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows comes out tomorrow.