This steampunk-infused sequel changes little of the revisionist DNA, but stirs it up into a bigger, brasher package. However the same frailties still abound.

Downey Jr returns as the fast-talking and faster-thinking Holmes, Law his often-exasperated partner Watson (their bromance as strong as ever) to face off against master criminal and intellectual-equal Moriarty (a suitably villainous Jared Harris), with it falling to Holmes to prevent “the collapse of western civilization”. As before, Law and Downey Jr’s chemistry is what sells – the latter on fine form doling out the super-cool barbs and prescient powers of intellect. Stephen Fry brings a dash of humour as Holmes’ older, wiser brother Mycroft but the women play second fiddle (McAdams but a cameo; newcomer Noomi Rapace underused).

The advent of the 20th century’s penchant for war brings an international flavour to the mindgames (and some tech gadgets such as machine guns and mortars add spice to the set pieces) but the process of deduction again underwhelms, Ritchie’s slow-fast editing style zapping these sequences of any surprise. It all zings along energetically enough, but there’s no disguising this contemporary spin on Conan Doyle’s character is getting a little routine already.

Good for: Fans of boys-own adventures and Downey Jr’s motor-mouthed mania

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace | 12A | 129mins


Review by Alasdair Morton

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