Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is just as good as, if not better than, its 2010 predecessor. It keeps all my favorite things about the first movie and does them again without seeming repetitive. Holmes and Watson continue to bicker like an old married couple, despite the fact that Watson actually gets married in the movie—the dialogue throughout is great, but especially between these two. Holmes continues to be a barely tolerable jerk at times, experimenting on Watson’s dog, ruining his bachelor party, and throwing his wife out of a moving train—albeit to save her life—among other things. There were more slow-motion future-analyzing scenes where Holmes works out what will happen in a given fight. (There was also liberal use of slow-motion to show off the ridiculous special effects that the movie has, which got pretty annoying after a while.) Even the soundtrack is just as great as the first movie’s.
What I enjoyed most about Game of Shadows, however, were the new additions. I loved that Mycroft, Holmes’ brother, was included, although there was one scene where he was looking after Watson’s wife and was naked for some reason. I didn’t really get that. I was thrilled that Professor Moriarty showed up—as Holmes’ greatest nemesis, he couldn’t have been avoided for long—and especially liked how his face wasn’t shown for the first bit of the movie (in fact, I wish that had gone on for much longer than it did).
The plot is fairly simple, but interesting enough. Moriarty, with liberal use of henchmen and assassins, acquires interests in weapons, medicine, and other industries of war, and then attempts to start World War I early by organizing a series of bombings in Germany and France and then arranging an assassination at a peace conference in Switzerland, all to make enormous sums of money by selling to both sides. It seems to me that in order to set all of this in motion he would need large sums of money, but I digress. Holmes, Watson, and a gypsy, whose brother is to be the assassin, chase Moriarty and one of his henchmen, a talented sniper, across Europe trying to uncover and halt his nefarious warmongering. One of my favorite scenes comes in a gun factory in Germany, when the sniper has Watson pinned down until Watson climbs into a cannon to return fire. The sniper sees the barrel pointed at him ominously and breathes, “No fair,” before beating a hasty retreat.
I also particularly like the cat-and-mouse game between Holmes and Moriarty; the movie has several moments where one seems to have completely outmaneuvered or outsmarted the other, only to reveal that the opposite is, in fact, true. Holmes’ disguises, which at points in the movie evolve into what he dubs “urban camouflage,” help a great deal with this, though I am surprised Moriarty failed to see through some of them.
All in all, A Game of Shadows is an excellent movie, one I would highly recommend seeing if you get the chance. Building on the appeal of the first one, it is a worthy successor, with a good plot, great acting, and plenty of humor to space out the action.