Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Guy Ritchie continues to degrade the iconic characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, albeit with a fresh round of screenwriters since the abominable 2009 franchise starter. “Deus ex machine” doesn't begin to describe a compulsive narrative tic that allows Robert Downey Jr.'s no-shit-Sherlock to see milliseconds into the future whenever he's under physical attack. Holmes’s slo-mo premonitions allow the audience to study in-depth the exact martial arts moves the sinewy Downey Jr. appears to employ with lightening quick reflexes.
The 1891 European-set "Game of Shadows" is an appropriate title for a movie that's all smoke-and-mirrors and no substance. Sherlock and engaged companion (not like that) Dr. Watson (Jude Law) are taunted by Jared Harris's Professor Moriarty. The diabolical villain is busy pulling political strings with a string of bombings designed to ignite a war between France and Germany. Don't worry, there's no groovy political allegory to get swept up in. Noomi Rapace stumbles into the story as Madam Simza Heron, a gypsy fortune teller whose level of believability roughly matches Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. The best thing you can say about “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is that it plays like a bunch of barely entertaining vignettes. Sarah Greenwood’s artful production designs keep your eyes busy. Still, frequent lulls come slogging by during the film’s corpulent 129-minute running time. It might be pretty to look at but nobody in their right mind would be so bold as to assert that anything here has the slightest thing to do with the pipe-smoking literary detective known to the world as Sherlock Holmes.
Rated PG-13. 128 mins. (D+) (One Star - out of five/no halves)