SHERLOCK HOLMES: GAME OF SHADOWS is the follow up to Robert Downey Jr.'s and Jude Law's very successful action-adventure SHERLOCK HOLMES. The entire cast is reassembled for GAME OF SHADOWS, including Kelly Reilly as Mary Watson and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler.
GAME OF SHADOWS concerns the first showdown between Holmes and Professor Moriarity (Jared Harris), the brilliant but evil genius who is Holmes' nemesis. The year is 1891, and Europe is on edge due to a number of assassinations and bombings. Each nation is blaming the other, and it seems that World War I will break out 23 years early. Only Holmes realizes that Moriarity is behind it all, for reasons of his own.
Moriarity attempts to destroy Holmes by targeting Irene Adler and the Watsons. Fortunately, Holmes has new allies as well, including his older, smarter, even more eccentric brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) and Madam Simsa Heron (Noomi Rapace) who leads a gang of revolutionaries once coopted by Moriarity but now fighting against him.
GAME OF SHADOWS outshines the initial film. The pacing is faster, the scriptwriting more crisp, the humor more incisive, the action less pyrotechnic. If the film has a relative weakness, it is in the female leads. Kelly Reilly and Noomi Rapace both give well-acted performances in inconsequential "pretty girl" roles. Rachel McAdams is wonderful, but her part in GAME OF SHADOWS is much abbreviated. This is really a men's buddy film nonpareil. Downey and Law, having given us the backstory of their characters in the original film, have incredible chemistry together as Holmes and Watson, and are able to explore in depth the complicated, sometimes ridiculous, often rivalrous relationship between the two men. All in all, it is great fun.