The oddly dissolute Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his sputtering sidekick, Watson (Jude Law), return for more adventures with dastardly villains in Guy Ritchie's sequel to his hit 2009 reboot of the detective franchise. This time out, we get more silly costumes (Holmes is variously an Oriental street-fighter, a woman, a gypsy, a chair) and less clever banter. (Too much of the humor involves silly slapstick, such as when Holmes rides a miniature pony.) The scattershot plot about anarchists and arms merchants has little cohesion, and the action sequences -- most filmed in Ritchie's slo-mo style -- quickly grow wearisome.
It's a shame, because like the first film, there's a capable cast, including Noomi Rapace (Sweden's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), as a feisty gypsy, and Jared Harris, as Prof. Moriarty. Fans of Holmes know that Moriarty is the detective's arch-rival, but here, poor Harris is stuck playing a villain who more resembles a peevish, self-important pundit. When the two finally go mano-a-mano, Ritchie doesn't give the actors any room to spar, but instead hits the whooshing slo-mo feature. I only wished I could hit the fast-forward button, but, alas, this film clearly sets the stage for a third.