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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Action, Adventure, Crime  |  16 December 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 312,960 users   Metascore: 48/100
Reviews: 405 user | 376 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.


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2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sherlock Holmes
Wolf Kahler ...
Doctor Hoffmanstahl
Iain Mitchell ...
Patricia Slater ...
Shush Club Maitre D'


Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his longtime trusted associate, Doctor Watson (Jude Law), take on their arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), with the help of Holmes' older brother Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry) and a gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace). Written by ABID NAZIR

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

16 December 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sherlock Holmes 2  »

Box Office


$125,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$39,637,079 (USA) (16 December 2011)


$186,830,669 (USA) (30 March 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


At the end of the train sequence, Watson says to Holmes, "Once more unto the breach". This is a line from a speech in Henry V by William Shakespeare. Much later in the play's speech, Henry V also exclaims, "The game is afoot", which Holmes used as a catchphrase in Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. See more »


Though very photogenic, the C96, or "Broom handle," Mauser pistol, used extensively in this film, was first produced in 1896, thus would not have been available in 1891. Also, most models of C96s had a non-removable internal magazine, which would have been loaded from above with a stripper clip. It wasn't until the early 1930s that the C96 design would be modified to accept a removable magazine (conveniently loaded from the bottom, as pointed out in the film). See more »


[first lines]
Dr. John Watson: [voice-over] The year was 1891. Storm clouds were brewing over Europe. France and Germany were at each other's throats, the result of a series of bombings. Some said it was the Nationalists. Others, the anarchists. But as usual, my friend Sherlock Holmes, had a different theory entirely.
See more »

Crazy Credits

SPOILER: The closing title "THE END" appears as part of Dr. Watson's manuscript; Holmes corrects the manuscript to make it "THE END?" See more »


Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #19.22 (2010) See more »


Accelerationen, Op. 234/Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood)
Written by Johann Strauss (as Johann Strauss II)
Re-Orchestration by Aleksey Igudesman & Dominic Lewis
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Shadow of What It Should Have Been
24 December 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Sherlock Holmes and approached this sequel with optimistic anticipation- only to be very disappointed. A budget that had doubled, multiple locations, and the confidence of a well received first instalment should have proved a solid platform for further success. Sadly, Director Guy Ritchie lost his way.

As a pairing, Holmes, played by Robert Downey Jnr ,and Watson, by Jude Law, worked first time around. This time , Jude Law saves the pairing from disaster. I can run with Holmes as a cocaine snorting eccentric, but his eccentricities are so overwrought in this outing that his credibility as a formidable intelligence becomes unconvincing. Although I am happy to see historic capabilities rewritten and reinterpreted, his ability and acumen at street-fighting place an emphasis on the visceral, rather than cerebral which takes the character, for my tastes, far too close to Jean Claude Van Damme and Vin Diesel territory. Those thoughtful deductive powers eschewed in favour of occasional machine-gun analysis.

Rachel McAdams role is reduced to a bit part, and is a peripheral figure. Noomi Rapace instead supplies the glamour in a tentative performance as Gypsy Madam Heron which doesn't convince. The Villain, Prof Moriarty, is played , uneasily, by Jared Harris whose visual likeness to Richard Stilgoe does not help the cause. Yet all is not lost. Stephen fry is excellent as Sherlock's brother, Geraldine James has pitifully little screen time as housekeeper Mrs Hudson yet delights whenever she appears, and Kelly Reilly does well in an underwritten role as Dr Watson's new wife.

The plot is a noisy mess, and is largely threadbare. Swooping camera shots, fast editing and slow motion have their place but quickly the action becomes all, and the law of diminishing returns quickly comes into play. Which is a shame, because when Ritchie gets it right, it can be very good. This time an escape from an arms and munitions works shines as an ever escalating armoury of weapons is employed against them. Indeed it is such a good scene that the final reel, an attempted assassination, becomes an anti-climax.

In summary, the familiar Director's curse of too much money, too weak a script/story, and indiscipline, with no-one around to say "Guy, No!," strikes, which is a shame. Ritchie can write good, funny dialogue (see "Lock Stock, etc")but it is not much in evidence here, he can also handle a good action scene (the dry dock fight in the first film). But here he tries to reinvent the Holmes legend again, but only succeeds in losing the good bits and failing to improve with what he attempts in its place.

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Sherlock Holmes 3 is most likely dead in the water John_Ax
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Is moriarty really dead? I think not... Franklyfilms
I really liked it. mbphilly79

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