The first film from 2009 didn’t exactly wow the critics, and the sequel is no exception. The mixed response ranges from “better than the first” to “one of the worst of the year,” but the chemistry between Downey and Jude Law earned the critics’ highest complements.
We’ve rounded up some of the best reviews to give you a sense what the critics are saying:
“As the film opens, Watson is paying a visit to his occasional partner in solving crimes. His wedding to Mary (Kelly Reilly) is fast approaching and Holmes is to be his best man. The intrigues begin in earnest with the bachelor party Holmes throws at an eccentric gentleman’s club, in which none of Dr. Watson’s pals show up but two new characters do — a very wry Stephen Fry as Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, and a Gypsy fortuneteller Madam Simza Heron, played by Noomi Rapace. Holmes has had a chance encounter (or was it) with the lovely Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) who seemed clearly over her head in something that involves Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris, the age-old nemesis, but newly arrived to the films and as dapper as he is in ’Mad Men’).” — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
Robert Downey Jr.
“Really, if [director Guy] Ritchie were on the case, even a little bit, how could he not notice Robert Downey Jr. giving the worst performance of his career? This is a director of some stature. He could talk to his star and help him. Here is an actor capable of dazzling audiences with his virtuosity, and yet there he is, slack and flat, phoning it in with a blithe delivery and his accent going in and out. Downey knows — of course he knows — that he could sleepwalk through the movie, and it will still be a hit.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
“Ritchie has done it again. In an act of criminal negligence, he’s wasted Robert Downey Jr. — an actor with the perfect verbal dexterity to play Sherlock Holmes — in a sequel that eliminates smarts in favor of relentless headbanging. 2009’s ’Sherlock Holmes’ was lousy, but it was also a big hit. So the sequel, ’A Game of Shadows,’ is more of the stupid same. It wouldn’t matter so much if Downey and Jude Law, as the bromantic Dr. Watson, didn’t look so ready to turn on the cerebral dazzle. Instead, Ritchie treats them like action goons out of his ’Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ basement.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
As a Sequel
“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.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
The Final Word
“It’s elementary. If you enjoyed the first ’Sherlock Holmes’ directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson, then you’ll likely leave the sequel feeling satiated.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Check out everything we’ve got on “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.”
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