Once you get past the point that SHGOS has very little Sherlock Holmes in it, there’s a great deal of fun to be had from this piece of nonsense. It’s one of those rare films that is good because you know that everyone involved in it had a blast making it, and that sense of fun is projected onto the finished product. Like I said, it’s not really Sherlock Holmes (if anything its Bond: The Steampunk Years), but it has enough familiar beats to be great fun from start to finish.
The majority of this comes down to the two leads – Robert Downey Jnr. is quite the resurgent hero of late, but it’s Jude Law who seems to be the better of the two. Quite often he gets stuck with roles that see him downplaying the somewhat rakish forties idol quality he has, but here it’s given full vent as the put upon family man of the two. There’s a genuine matey-chemistry to the pair, without the usual bromance trappings (a word that I’m increasingly hating) that often mean they have to fall out and reconcile before they can defeat the villain – indeed here they just snipe at each other from start to finish, but there’s the sense if anything genuinely hurtful was said they’d be mortified.
Elsewhere the cast is fine although a little underused in places. Nommi Rapace seems criminally underused and Stephen Fry is just himself really. Jared Harris is the weak link – he’d be fine as a more cerebral villain, but that side never really gets exploited (yes, we know what his plot is, but we never see the wheels within wheels he’s created).
Technically its far better than the first – Guy Ritchie actually indulging in a little quality control with the effects this time (far less digital pokery this time as well, which was the real technical weakness of the first) and keeping the pace far more even. All in all a fun diversion, and certainly better than most franchise sequels these days.