The new Holmes starts with a bang and doesn’t let up. It’s filled with fights, shoot-outs and high-speed chases – well as high-speed as it got in Queen Victoria’s day.
All the while Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jnr) and Dr Watson (Jude Law) carry on the deliciously bitchy but matey sparring they did so well in the first film.
This time Holmes is pitched against his nemesis, the evil genius Prof Moriarty (Mad Men’s Jared Harris), who plans to spark war in Europe.
Bad news for Europe but good for Holmes because at the opening he’s devastated that his less-than-faithful sidekick Watson has decided to pack both him and the detecting business in for good to marry his sweetheart Mary (Kelly Reilly).
But as soon as they discover Moriarty’s evil plan on Watson’s stag-night – a suitably laddish affair – they set off to foil him.
As with the first Holmes, director Guy Ritchie, conjures up the grime and smog as well as the grandeur of the times as he takes us first from London to a tour of Europe’s capital cities.
Stephen Fry does a brilliant turn as Holmes’s droll elder brother Mycroft. Peek behind your fingers at Moriarty torturing Holmes in a scene that manages to be scary and homo-erotic at once.
And a cross-dressing Robert Downey Jnr manages to be one of cinema’s least convincing but still sexy drag queens.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is out Friday 16 December 2011.
By Gillian Crawley