Tuesday 27 December 2011
This time around we have Sherlock going up against a criminal mastermind that wants to bring about world war so he clean up on the guns, bullets and bombs necessary to fight this armageddon. A little megalomaniacal for late Victorian England, but I bought it. This covert evil genius is none other than Professor James Moriarty, Holmes' archenemy, the Napoleon of Crime as described by Doyle. He is played to sinister perfection by Jared Harris. The air between Holmes and Moriarty whenever they share screen time is charged, the dialogue, knife-blade sharp. The way they match wits is an intellectual Wimbledon final that left me wanting more and more. I didn't want to leave these two, other than to go to Holmes and Watson, who are just electric together. Seriously, RDJ and Law light it up like Chicago at Christmas. I could not get enough of them and yes, I want another SH film right freakin' now.
Back to the shadow game. Holmes becomes aware of Moriarty's machinations through Irene Adler, in a thankfully brief cameo by Rachel McAdams. Sherlock, of course forms his crazy, frantic web of red string to try and tie it all together. Enter poor Watson, who is arriving in expectation of his bachelor party, only to get caught up once more in his friend's insanity.
Cut to the Diogenes Club and the "bachelor" party, which really isn't one as the only other person Watson knows is Mycroft, Holmes' equally eccentric older brother. Stephen Fry is brilliant as Holmes the Elder. He seems a stodgy, almost calmer version of Sherlock, but he really has his own steamer trunk of weirdness. Here they meet Gypsey fortune teller Madame Simza played by Noomi Rapace in a stellar performance. Her chemistry with both RDJ and Law is dynamite. She really holds her own unlike McAdams, who, while I like her, was woefully mis-cast as Adler. She had chemistry, but you could tell she was overwhelmed.
After saving Simza and defeating a Cossack assassin in a roller coaster chase through the club, Holmes deposits a hung-over Watson at his wedding. While the good doctor enjoys his new bride, Holmes heads to confront Moriarty. What a verbal thrust and parry this scene is. It starts off with toothy pleasantries, two sharks circling, then spirals into a sinister verbal duel. I sat on the edge of my seat watching the blood-letting until Moriarty makes it clear that he was going to go through Watson to punish Holmes. Harris has such a vulturine look in his eyes here, it is scary to behold.
Moriarty brings the Wrath of the Universe down on Watson as he arranges for a squad of soldier types to blow the guy's honeymoon train to smithereens. This action sequence and the dialogue are some of the best of the film. Ritchie pulls out all the stops with everything flying fast and furious on speeding rail cars. It was phenomenal and RDJ in a dress just ruled along with his double entendres. And can I just say that Kelly Reilly is so kick ass as Mary Watson. I cheered when she picked up Watson's gun and ordered that thug off the train. A bride worthy of my favorite doctor.