Over-cranked chaos without suspense or mystery. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the second installment in what appears to be a franchise, has an even more transparent plot then the original. Odd, since “suspense” and “mystery” are supposed to be synonymous with this legendary character. It is clearer this time, beware my snark, that Robert Downey Jr. is just wrong for this part anyway. Downey Jr. sputters away a million words a second without cadence. Jude Law has gentlemanly flap as John Watson and has just the right hint of action machismo. Rachel McAdams makes a brief return appearance, but Noomi Rapace (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Swedish version) as a gypsy girl is the primary babe along for the ride.
The original 2009 entry had a charnel house predicament, a runaway boat busting through the docks, and a joust on the rafters that I would regard at least as good action scenes even though I didn’t care for the rest of it. This time, I was only fond of an action bonanza on a train that includes a moment of a cylinder gun shredding up coach class to smithereens. The dark comic vein of this sequel is that Dr. Watson (Law) is supposed to be on his honeymoon with new wife Mary (Kelly Reilly). Sherlock explains that it’s not him who has invited the chaos. Dr. Watson is the mortal target.
But who and why is a constant question. This is the kind of movie where new characters are introduced so they can fight with Sherlock, who this time can foresee four moves ahead of him thanks to some kind of Buddhist prayer, but never explains who they are and what they represent. All we know is that from the get-go, we should keep an eye on Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris).
“Game of Shadows” has a plot that is just a benumbed series of bomb blasts ravaging expensive sets. The construction of 1891 London is magnificent, but director Guy Ritchie has no idea how to photograph any of it. His movie zips and zaps around so fast that nothing breathes normally. It’s a movie with 101 climaxes. No suspenseful foreplay. You predict and figure out the turncoat immediately with 100 more of those climaxes to go.
128 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ACTION COMEDY / MINDLESS / WEEKEND FLICK
Film Cousins: “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974); “Clue” (1985); “National Treasure” (2004); “Sherlock Holmes” (2009).