A smokin sleuth
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Robert Downey Jr,Jude Law,Jared Harris,Noomi Rapace,Stephen Fry ,Rachel McAdams
A hat,coat tails,pipe,eyeglass; immaculate,serious,stern and not a person to be trifled withfor generations of us who grew up reading Sherlock Holmes,Jeremy Brett from the 1984 TV series would always be him.
However,go back to the adventures the man at 221B street had,his experiments with drugs,his days without food,his hours in isolation,his obsession with detail,his scant regard for personal safety in pursuit of cases,his long collapses into moroseness,and you wonder if a man pushing 60 didn’t have a dash of colour about him to do all that.
Downey Jr is that colour. Guy Ritchies film,again,may go over and about the quiet confabulations and dark interiors of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s world,but it makes Holmes more of a person who belongs to that world. A Game Of Shadows goes further in that direction than the 2009 film,presenting Holmes in all the lurid details of his definitely non-dull existence.
Irene Adler appears but briefly,for this film goes further and broadly hints that what Holmes and Watson (Law) shared was more than just friendship. Watson is about to get married and surely,there is more to Holmes’s sadness than the fear of losing a constant companion. They even dance at one point even as Holmes touchingly leads Watson up to the altar,the former unusually quiet,the latter unusually reticent.
In the choice of its villain too, A Game of Shadows unveils the biggest one of them all the notorious Professor Moriarty. Unlike Mark Strong’s sneering,glaring Lord Blackwood who seemed to belong to a rather current time and place in the 2009 film,Moriarty played by Harris is a villain of the old order – respectful of his adversaries and deferential of the surroundings in which to pick a battle.
Not that Ritchie can resist the coolness that defines his Holmes. Lots of things explode,people get shot and so on,but no one,ever,waits to hear that footstep on the stairs.
This is not the Holmes spotting small signs and watching these form themselves into a big picture. He is the big picture here,the clues filled in later as markers. Its not the workings of a great mind that we see here,but the workings of a well-muscled body. Holmes the books are another matter.