They say you can never underestimate your opponents. That they may be as clever, as detailed, as meticulous in preparation for the end intrigue they have prepared for you, for all. The Game of Shadows makes a good go of bringing you to a precursor of the European long game of 1914 via the dastardly Professor Moriarty. Holmes, his antithesis, takes up the chess match to a near flawless duel of equals of the mind, if not of heart. For Moriarty (Jared Harris) has not one.
In referencing the great works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, director Guy Richie has blended those stories with a few inventions of his own. Now, this reviewer is not a master Holmesian purveyor. I enjoyed a few of the shorts in my earlier days, “The Red-headed League”, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”, and several others some twenty to twenty-five years prior when boys find their heroes more and more in pages of literary works. Doyle’s masterful detective genius was good fun –always kept one’s sharp attention.
So, I understand the poetic license Richie has to take to make it work in today’s environs. Action, action, and funny quips, for which, the modern Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) has made quite palatable for all ages. Jude Law’s depiction of Dr. Watson is a banquet of a different sort from Doyle’s feast. Mainly, Watson has a truly redoubtable courage, the joie de vivre of a 1980s rock star, but is much more skeptical (with equal parts reasoning) of the escapading Holmes. Nonetheless, Watson will give his life for Holmes, but also will give him a tongue lashing all the way to the damnable end of his partner’s, “elementary, my dear Watson, puzzle solved; but now we’re bloody well sacked” destruction. (Not that he ever said any of that.)
Ah yes, the movie. It clocks two hours of 1890s fun. The two opposing forces setting their boards up for a duel of strategies, tactics, and pieces moved to block, to sacrifice, in order to win the sparking-towards-battle of Europe. Much like the real Europe, and real war, attacks, counteroffensives, forced retreats, feint attacks and retreats, and seeming stalemates occur. Neither side is desperate – but only more enlivened to fight on.
But the strategists take different routes to fulfill their quest. Moriarty controls and sacrifices all his pieces to win; and plays on the dark forces inside men. Holmes, the supreme practitioner of Pragmatism, the keen adventurer, moral and just in his own unique light, thinks of counters to win this dark game; but with honor, and the sacrifices made by others due solely to free will. The Game of Shadows titling is apropos.
One can scarcely think a better Holmes movie can be made. It is hopeful that such an epic finale will be made.
I wonder, is a game afoot to fund such a smashing endeavor?
One can only dream.
Basic Sherlock Holmes’s Pragmatism
1. Pragmatism is based on the premise that the human capability to theorize is necessary for intelligent practice.
2. Pragmatism instead tries to explain, psychologically and biologically, how the relation between knower and known ‘works’ in the world.
3. From the outset, pragmatists wanted to reform philosophy and bring it more in line with the scientific method as they understood it.
4. There is no power of intuition in the sense of a cognition unconditioned by inference, and no power of introspection, intuitive or otherwise, and that awareness of an internal world is by hypothetical inference from external facts.
5. There is no absolutely first cognition in a cognitive process; such a process has its beginning but can always be analyzed into finer cognitive stages. That which we call introspection does not give privileged access to knowledge about the mind – the self is a concept that is derived from our interaction with the external world and not the other way around.
Note: Pragmatism came into being towards the late 19th century – circa Doyle’s heyday.