Friday, January 13, 2012
#266: A Game of Shadows
Where does one begin while reviewing a movie like "A Game of Shadows" ? Should it be about the classy antiquated feel of the film or the breathtaking action sequences or the precise dialogues laced in wit and comeuppance. But since all of these are equally good perhaps beginning with Guy Ritchie, the man who brings it all together in a film so good, I don't find any qualms in declaring as the film of the Year, should be a fair starting point.
When the first edition of Sherlock Holmes released in 2010, it had its fair share of detractors. They said this isn't how Sherlock behaved in the books- he wasn't all action or brawn for that matter. They said Ritchie took far too many liberties with his lead character and probably killed the essence of Sherlock with his reinvention. My take on this was that an artist should have the liberty to reinterpret classics- that's where his creative genius comes in. Not every adaptation needs to stick to the original rules of the game. There's of course a charm in that genre too but one shouldn't rule out the immense possibilities of a slight departure in the recreation of a classic. And that's where Guy Ritchie scores and scores big as he continues his bold reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes with A Game of Shadows. And this one unlike the norm of sequels if bigger, better and even bolder.
Taking a cue from the Adventure of The Final Problem, the film is a classic cat-and-mouse game between the ace sleuth and his bete-noire James Moriarty, played by the mean-looking Jared Harris. As the antagonist in the scheme of things. Jared is as evil as they come with plans to spark off a world war between nations and profit from the subsequent arms race. Moriarty's character is aptly performed by Harris who is all class and élan in his manners - both civil and criminal. Robert Downey Jr. on the other hand is his counterfoil - rugged and swift. The race of oneupmanship between the two is as good as it can get even as Dr. John Watson played by Jude Law pulls his weight with an able hand. The highlight of the film however is the excellent choreography of action. It is here that Guy Ritchie has a grammar of his own that is constantly keeps you on a razor's edge. Not since The Dark Knight has a movie had such an incredible array of stunts that are guaranteed to leave your jaw open. At the same time, Kieron Mulroney and Mitchell Mulroney's writing is soaked in brilliance and the DOP Phillipe Rouselot contributes immensely in creating some unforgettable scenes of action. The art direction is once again top notch with little or rather nothing out of place.
So what is it that doesn't work about A Game of Shadows? If anything, perhaps a background score that's not as taut or mischievous as the first edition's. That's probably the only department that didn't lift itself up compared to the first part. Its not as if we didn't know it already but the film is irrefutable proof that Ritchie must count as one of the best directors in the world at the moment. What he has given us with A Game of Shadows is much more than a film, it is an indelible footprint in the history of film.