Downey Jr in drag and Noomi Rapace telling fortunes … watch the slick, quick promo for Sherlock sequel A Game of Shadows
Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes was, for me, one of those Hollywood confections where the whole does not quite equal the sum of its parts. Robert Downey Jr created a pleasingly offbeat take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous super-sleuth, and the 2009 film offered some nicely realised, wonderfully atmospheric images of 19th-century London, yet something was missing. The flirtatious banter between Holmes and Rachel McAdams’s Irene Adler failed to crackle with the required electricity, and Mark Strong’s turn as Lord Blackwood felt like just another rent-a-villain in a career that is fast becoming defined by them.
Nevertheless, the film did very little wrong (if you could ignore Ritchie’s usual mildly irritating penchant for slo-mo, fast-mo jiggery pokery) and set things up nicely for the sequel via its late-on hint at the introduction of Holmes’s traditional nemesis, Professor Moriarty. So here we are, encore une fois, with the debut trailer for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and the good news is that the story this time around apparently has a whole lot more Conan Doyle in it, being loosely based on the author’s famous short story The Final Problem. Holmes acolytes will be aware of that tale’s status in the canon: I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, suffice to say it’s a hugely eventful outing for the great detective (and the one in which we first meet Moriarty).
At first glance, it looks like we’re back in full-on action-dandy Holmes territory, with Downey Jr spending much of the trailer in drag, and quite a bit of the rest of it engaged in fisticuffs. We get more than a glimpse of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace in her debut English language role as a suspiciously Scandinavian-sounding Gypsy fortune teller, and there’s a snatch of Jared Harris’s Moriarty. No Stephen Fry – who was cast as Holmes’s elder brother Mycroft – however, and no McAdams, who apparently makes some sort of re-appearance.
As one might expect from Ritchie, it’s a slick, fast-paced promo for what will most likely be a breezy, watchable sequel. But will A Game of Shadows elevate this iteration of Holmes to higher ground when it arrives in cinemas just before Christmas, or would you rather be watching Benedict Cumberbatch on the telly?