Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
I suppose any hope of an authentic Sherlock Holmes movie is foolish at this epoch in movie history. No matter that a story is set in 1895 in Victorian London, it must be chockablock with explosions, gunfire, special effects and fights that bear no comparison to the "fisticuffs" of the period. As an Anglophile, I've luxuriated in the genial atmosphere of the Conan Doyle stories, where a step is heard on the stair, a client tells his tale, and Holmes withdraws to his rooms to consider his new case during a period of meditation (involving such study aids as opium).
We see a great deal of Victorian London (and Paris and Switzerland) in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," but we must look quickly. The movie all but hurtles through episodes that would be leisurely set pieces in a traditional Holmes story. This is a modern action picture played in costume. I knew it would be. After Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law grossed something like half a billion dollars, this was no time to rethink the approach. What they have done, however, is add a degree of refinement and invention, and I enjoyed this one more than the earlier film.
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" opens with an emergency that threatens to rock Holmes' world: Dr. Watson (Law) is getting married. In the first film, we learned of his engagement to Mary Watson (Kelly Reilly), and now a date has been set for the poor girl. Holmes (Downey), who considers himself every bit as much good company as the doctor could possibly require, deplores this development, and indeed even joins the blissful couple on their honeymoon train journey. At one point, he throws Mary off the train, but to be fair, it's to save her life.
Most of the film centers on a climax in the long-standing feud between Holmes and Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), who beneath his cover as an Oxford don, is the mastermind of an anarchist plot to use bombings and assassinations to push Europe into war. Moriarty would profit handsomely from that because he operates an enormous secret munitions factory, turning out everything from machine pistols to gigantic cannons. The lives of many European heads of state are threatened, and Holmes is the only hope to keep the peace.