Ritchie’s Sherlock is vapid fun, but Cumberbatch fails to save Wreckers

FILM
SHERLOCK: GAME OF SHADOWS CERT: 12A

The second Guy Ritchie reworking of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic series is bigger, louder and infectiously entertaining, if a little elementary. Exhilaratingly sharp, sweeping visuals pack a punch and Robert Downey Jnr throws everything he’s got into carrying the Holmes-does-1890s-Bond juggernaut. But is isn’t quite enough to conceal a lacklustre plot.

Having intercepted a letter, as well as a bomb, Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes takes a break from the manic inventions he dreams up while drinking embalming fluid to drag the world-weary Dr Watson (Jude Law) away from his honeymoon to go up against evil genius Professor Moriarty (a terrifying, subtle performance by subtle Jared Harris).

Trying to work out what Moriarty is up to, the pair are led to Noomi Rapace’s mysterious gypsy woman, all the time bickering, acting homoerotically and getting into well-executed fight sequences. That said, it sometimes feels Ritchie is just waiting for the next set-piece so he can go mental with the slo-mo button again.

Holmes’ tendency to visualise the different elements of an upcoming bout of fisticuffs was a fresh gimmick in the first film, as was Ritchie’s epilepsy-inducing editing, but it starts to tire, as does his overuse of slow motion and underuse of Noomi Rapace. Despite being set up as a knife-wielding, if stereotypical, gypsy able to give Holmes a run for his money, she’s all of sudden reduced to looking vaguely shocked and following people about while wearing jangly earrings.

However, credit where credit’s due: Downey Jnr and Ritchie’s inherent sense of fun is impossible to ignore. People are thrown from trains, things explode, Downey Jnr sports an impressive selection of beards and Stephen Fry gets naked – all set to plinky-plonky-East-End-boozer piano strains.

The nude scene is a little gratuitous and the film often slides into the cartoonish, skipping past scientific impossibility for the sake of entertainment. But maybe it doesn’t matter if Watson suddenly becomes adept at combat, or that Moriarty’s solution to disguising terrorists from their relatives is utterly ludicrous: there is a convoluted evil master-plan to be unravelled and a lot of fun to be had doing it.

Stevie Martin

FILM
WRECKERS CERT: 15

You can see where writer and director DR Hood was going with this low-budget, personal study of love, lies and secrets. Unfortunately, the result feels like an overlong episode of a Sunday afternoon drama, the sort grandparents love and everyone else falls asleep to.

Trying for a baby, Dawn (Claire Foy) and David (Benedict Cumberbatch) are surprised one day by a visit from David’s troubled brother Nick (Shaun Evans). Having been in the army and suffering from night terrors, Dawn watches her idyllic relationship falter as it becomes clear Nick isn’t the only troubled son in the family.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with Wreckers – the British cast are strong, especially Cumberbatch, and the story is diverting. Unfortunately, it’s also fairly one-note.

The number of coincidental meetings, not to mention inexplicable decisions taken by characters, mean that Wreckers isn’t quite as acutely realised as it imagines, much like Dawn and David’s relationship. Meaningful looks, natural light and the odd loaded sentence don’t automatically make something real, and Wreckers would have done well to concentrate a little more on pace. It plods along reasonably enough but is lumbered with the sort of script better suited to a subplot in a soap opera – a shame, given the talent on show.

SM

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