What does it take to make a sequel? The same ingredients but double the dose, ad nauseum.
Arthur Conan Doyle is dead but he might have been double-jaw dropping since the first adaptation of his Sherlock Holmes series by Guy Ritchie. The director of Snatch changed radically the dusty image left years after years, especially after Basil Rathbone‘s performance years before. After all, the old guy with the pipe must have been young once, in « real » life (reminder : Holmes is a fictionious character) and also in fiction as shown in Young Sherlock Holmes (Barry Levinson,1985) he was a teenager. And maybe at the middle of life he had the allure and charisma of Robert Iron-Downey Jr. and Watson had Jude Law’s skills – with of course lessons of kick-ass boxing, slowmotion and a touch of retrofuturistic plots to cope with. Most of the audience and the critics approved this updated version of the Baker Street heroes.
But the sequel suffers of the abondance of the same tricks, like the abuse of slowmo in action scenes. Every narrative and graphical subtility of the 2009 movie is used again. Everything that was unexpected and subtle in 2009 becomes repetitive in the second adventure. Guy Richie’s bad habits take over the entire movie as they did with the previous ones : slowmotion, boxfight, and gypsies. All three motives repeat themselves in four previous movies of the same director.
« Bromance »
Holmes’s inheriters, geeks and fans argued before the release of the first Ritchies’ film, almost like Holmes was real, that it was scandalous to suggest an homosexual relationship between Holmes and Watson, and the toxicomaniac behaviour of the detective propably addicted to cocain, alcohol and various drugs (in 2009 Downey-Holmes swallows a substance « that could stone a horse in surgery »). However, Holmes and his sidekick are also described as heteros : Holmes running infinitely after a charming burglar (Rachel McAdams), and Watson trying to spouse a delicate british widow despite the jealousy of Holmes (probably afraid to find himself amputated of his best friend and colleague). Among sociologists, this kind of relation between two people of the same sex is classified as « homosociality ». They are so many in movies : Jules and Jim, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Leathal Weapon, Sam and Frodon in Lord of The Ring. The word « womance » designates the same intimacy between two women, like Thelma & Louise. Let’s push this logic further so to call « zoomance » the non-sexual but ambiguous friendship between human characters and animals : Tintin and his dog, Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch, or James Belushi‘s and his cop-dog in K-9. Probably, this excentric and borderline behaviours of Holmes are more faithful to the original work of Doyle than the politically correct one the actual living fans have retained from their infancy readings or viewings.
But in Sherlock Holmes : A Game of Shadows you got served twice the dose. So as the three acting women are reduced to passive roles (especially Noomi Rapace and especially all other women) submitted to the famous trope « damzel in distress » and/or « to marry », the director exagerates his homo-provocation. That’s why he gives us a scene where Holmes-Downey is disguised (as he is a specialist of disguise in 2009) in a victorian woman, then, half-naked he lies down side by side with Watson, red lipstick and a pipe in the mouth, waiting for a rifle of automatic guns to pass by. It is not about Holmes beeing gay, it is about mocking gays through a ridiculous olsdschool male heterosexual antigay humour.
However, for the one who did not see the firt Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, this sequel is one good moment of entertainement. Hans Zimmer who did a great job in 2009 renewed a bit his composition with an interesting score mixing eastern music with something issued from maybe this strange victorian era when technology started to dispute harder its place against superstition. But… To be served the same dish twice spoils the pleasure the second time. And a chef serving twice the same recipe mistakes himself first, doesn’t he ? Whoddunit, the producers or the authors? And Why? Alimentay dear Watson.
Sherlock Holmes 2 : A Game Of Shadows – Directed by Ritchie, written by Michele et Kieran Mulroney, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris. U.S.A. – 2011.