Director Guy Ritchie has done it again. In an act of criminal negligence, he's wasted Robert Downey Jr. – an actor with the perfect verbal dexterity to play Sherlock Holmes – in a sequel that eliminates smarts in favor relentless headbanging. 2009's Sherlock Holmes was lousy, but it was also a big hit. So the sequel, A Game of Shadows, is more of the stupid same. It wouldn't matter so much if Downey and Jude Law, as the bromantic Dr. Watson, didn't look so ready to turn on the cerebral dazzle. Instead, Ritchie treats them like action goons out of his Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels basement. On the plus side, the great Jared Harris takes his sweet, quiet time with the devil inside Professor Moriarty, who wants to start a war to make his name in the weapons business. And Noomi Rapace, who played the Goth heroine in the Swedish film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, gives her gypsy character genuine soul. But the grace notes are soon drowned out by Ritchie's incessant need to obliterate thought and feeling.
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