Robert Downey Jr’s second outing as Sherlock Holmes sees the narcissistic detective taking on his nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), Europe and the course of history. We open with Holmes doing much the same as he was in the first film – stalking his squeeze Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) around London and showing off his skills as a bad-ass. After some cronies have a meeting with Holmes’ fist, a bomb blows up a mummy and of course much witty banter, Adler has a sinister meeting with Moriarty and things take a turn for the tuberculosis.
Robert Downey Jr seems to be having fun running about CGI-turn-of-the-century London and this film does have a more cohesive feel to it than the first, but the whole thing seems a little tiresome. There are only so many slow-mo action sequences and cool witticisms you can take in a film that lasts two hours. That’s not to say that the plot doesn’t crack on at a pace, especially once Holmes and his faithful Dr Watson (Jude Law) escape London and head for the continent, hot on Moriarty’s dastardly heels.
Jared Harris’ Moriarty is a wonder of cool indifference and silent menace. Unlike Holmes he has no tendency for flamboyancy but has a sinister confidence, as if not only is his plan right but inevitable. Considering the history of the early 20th century, of course we all know that Moriarty’s ambitions for full world war are indeed inevitable and this gives the film an element of dark cynicism. But beyond that there’s nothing really new here, Jude Law is still a vacant distraction and the viewer still often feels cheated by the revelations as opposed to enlightened. Having said that Noomi Rapace’s French gypsy beauty is a nice alternative to the pouty Rachel McAdams and Stephen Fry as ‘the other Holmes’ is quite wonderful, if a little needlessly overused. All in all standard Guy Ritchie here: lots of actions, pretty people and fast dialogue but not enough going on underneath.