The long-awaited sequel for the first successful Guy Ritchie Holmes movie landed in theatres with a few surprises. Despite Rachel McAdams’ huge involvement in the first film as Irene Adler, here she is largely absent, as the storyline focuses on the aftermath of Watson’s marriage to his sweetheart Mary, and Holmes’ battle with his arch nemesis, Moriarty. Taking us through France, England, and Switzerland, a crazy chase leads our heroes in the quest for a gypsy’s brother, who may just hold the key to preventing another world war from breaking out.
One of the problems facing Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows seems to be the fact that it crams a huge amount of different Sherlock Holmes stories into one. It is based primarily on the infamous ‘The Final Solution’, but also includes certain parts of ‘The Sign of Four’, ‘The Greek Interpreter’, ‘Valley of Fear’, ‘The Speckled Band’, ‘The Dying Detective’, ‘Bruce Partington Plans’, and ‘The Second Stain’. The action seems a little rushed, as we hurtle from location to location on trains, horses, and prototype automobiles. Characters come and go in a flash, and many people may be disappointed with the tiny cameos from characters such as Lestrade, but new appearances from actors such as Stephen Fry do delight.
All in all, the effects are great, and there is certainly a lot of humour involved. The last scene is fairly close to perfect, as well as the “twist” ending that many close observers and Holmes fans will be able to easily predict. However, there is just a certain something missing – an essence, a je ne sais quoi that could have pushed it to the next level. There was a lot of promotional activity around the release, but perhaps a smidgeon more time should have been spent on perfecting the film and – dare we say it – simplifying the storyline so that it did not feel so rushed.