Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the 2011 Sherlock Holmes film directed by Guy Ritchie. It is a sequel to the 2009 film, Sherlock Holmes, also directed by Guy Ritchie; however, while A Game of Shadows takes place one year after the events of the first film, it is a stand-alone film that does not require knowledge of the first film.
The plot is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's canon story, "The Adventure of the Final Problem". Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law return as Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson respectively, while Jared Harris portray's Holmes' arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty. Noomi Rapace assumes the female lead as Madame Simza Heron (Sim), a Romani Gypsy fortune-teller; meanwhile, the part of Irene Adler, played by Rachel McAdams, is substantially reduced from the first film.
Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest detective in the room... until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large – Professor James Moriarty – and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but he is capable of great evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective, Sherlock Holmes. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as constructed by Inspector Lestrade points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been a victim of murder – a murder that is only one piece of a large and much more complex puzzle designed by one, Professor Moriarty. Mixing business with pleasure, Holmes tracks the clues to an underground gentlemen's club, where he and his brother Mycroft are toasting Dr John Watson on his last night of bachelorhood. It is there that Holmes encounters Sim, a Gypsy fortune teller, who sees more than she is telling and whose unwitting involvement in the prince's murder makes her the killers next target. Holmes saves her life and, in return, she agrees to help him. The investigation becomes even more dangerous as it leads Holmes, Watson, and Sim across the continent, from England to France, then to Germany, and finally to Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead as he spins a web of death and destruction – all part of a greater plan, if he succeeds, will change the course of history as we very well know it.
In 1891, a series of terrorist bombings in Europe have heightened tensions on the continent, particularly between France and Germany. As part of his investigation into these attacks Sherlock Holmes, disguised as a Chinese opium addict, tracks down Irene Adler in London, who is carrying with her a small parcel. Holmes manages to take the package from Irene, but she tricks him into an ambush set by her thug escort. Irene recovers the package and walks away, leaving Holmes to fight off her bodyguards. With Holmes occupied she travels to the Cromwell & Griff auction-house where she meets Dr Karl Hoffmanstahl, a renowned surgeon, and gives him the package as payment for services rendered to her mysterious employed. In return Hoffmanstahl gives her a letter he was supposed to deliver. Irene rises to leave, but Hoffmanstahl tells her to stay while he checks the package contents. When he opens the package, he nearly triggers a hidden bomb which is only prevented from detonating when Holmes unexpectedly arrives. Holmes takes the letter from Irene and evacuates the auction-house by setting a tapestry on fire, then disposes of the bomb, allowing Adler and Hoffmanstahl escape. As he leaves the building he passes a bearded man who stares at him, only to find Hoffmanstahl dead by a bookstall with a poison dart in his leg.
Irene travels to a fancy restaurant where she meets with her employer, Professor James Moriarty, to explain the events. Not trusting him she asks the waiter for a new pot of tea. Moriarty asks her for Hoffmanstahl's letter, which she admits was taken from her. When she blames Moriarty for not telling her the package was a bomb, he coldly asks her if she was worried something would happen to her, and if that was why she chose to meet in public. He reinforces his point by having his accomplice, the bearded man Holmes saw earlier, tap his glass, at which point all the other diners leave. Moriarty reveals that he has known about her feelings for Holmes for some time, and that he blames himself for letting it compromise his position. He dismisses Adler, who rises to leave, takes a few steps, and then collapses to the floor. She never arrives at the dinner date she arranged with Holmes for that evening.
In a little while, Dr John Watson arrives at 221B Baker Street, where Holmes discloses that he is investigating a series of seemingly unrelated murders, terrorist attacks, and business acquisitions (a scandal involving an Indian cotton tycoon, the overdose of a Chinese opium trader, bombings in Strasbourg and Vienna, and the death of a steel magnate in America), that he has connected to Moriarty. Holmes meets with the Romani gypsy, Simza Heron at the location of Dr Watson's bachelor party, the intended recipient of the letter he had taken from Irene Adler, sent by her brother, René. Sherlock Holmes, with the help of Sim, defeats the assassin sent to kill her, but she flees before Holmes can speak to her. After Mary Watson and Watson's wedding, Holmes meets Moriarty for the first time at one of his conventions. Later, Moriarty informs Sherlock Holmes that he murdered Irene and will kill Watson and Mary if Holmes' interference continues.
Moriarty's men disguised as British army soldiers attacked Watson and Mary on a train to Brighton for their honeymoon. Holmes, having followed the pair for protection, throws Mary from the train into a river below where she is picked up by Holmes' waiting brother Mycroft Holmes and takes her to safety. After defeating Moriarty's men, Holmes and Watson travel to Paris to locate Sim. When she is found at her camp in the forest, Holmes tells Sim that she has been targeted because René is working for Moriarty, and may have told her about his plans. Sim takes the pair to the headquarters of an anarchist group to which she and René had formerly belonged. They question their leader, Claude Ravache, who tells them that the anarchists have been forced to plant bombs for Moriarty before killing himself. They are forced to flee to escape the anarchists, who believe they have killed Ravache.
Arriving back in central Paris the trio follows Holmes' deduction that the bomb is in the Paris Opera. However, Holmes realises too late that he has been tricked and that the bomb is in a nearby Hôtel du Triomphe; the bombing kills a number of assembled businessmen. Holmes discovers that the bomb was a cover for the assassination of Alfred Meinhard – one of the attendees – by Moriarty's aide, Sebastian Moran. Meinhard's death grants Moriarty ownership of Meinhard's weapons factory in Heilbronn, Germany. Holmes, Watson, and Sim travel to Germany, following clues in René's letters.
At the factory, Moriarty captures and tortures Holmes, while Watson is pinned down behind a large cannon by sniper fire from Moran. Moriarty reveals that he owns shares in multiple war-profiting companies, and intends to instigate a world war to make himself a fortune. Meanwhile, Watson uses the cannon he was behind to destroy the lighthouse in which Moran is concealed. The structure collapses into the warehouse where Moriarty is holding Holmes captive beneath the rubble. Watson assists Holmes from the rubble and reunites with Sim, and her people. They narrowly escape the bombs being dropped upon them; but, they finally reach the end of the forest and hop aboard a moving train. While in the train, Sim is chanting in her language, trying to keep Holmes alive from his injury he had sustained when being tortured by Moriarty. Suddenly, Holmes becomes unconscious and Watson tries desperately to save him. Remembering that Holmes had given him a wedding present earlier to start the heart again, Watson uses it to start Holmes' heart again. Holmes realizes that Moriarty's final target will be a peace summit in Switzerland, creating an international incident.
At the summit, Holmes reveals that René is the assassin and that he is disguised as the Rumanian ambassador – having been given radical re-constructive surgery by Hoffmanstahl to alter his appearance. Watson and Simza search for signs of the assassin while Holmes and Moriarty, who is also in attendance, retreat outside to discuss their competing plans. Watson and Simza find René and stop his assassination attempt, but René is himself silenced by Moran. Outside, Holmes reveals that he previously replaced Moriarty's personal diary that contained all his plans and financing with a duplicate. The original was sent to Mary in London who decrypted the code using a book that Holmes had noticed in Moriarty's office during their first meeting. Mary passes the information to Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) who seizes the bulk of Moriarty's assets, financially crippling him. Holmes and Moriarty anticipate an impending physical confrontation that both realise Moriarty would win, due to Holmes' injured shoulder. Holmes instead grapples Moriarty and forces them both over the balcony and into the Reichenbach Falls below.
No bodies are found and they are both declared dead. Following Holmes' memorial, Watson and Mary prepare to have their belated honeymoon when Watson, who is now writing the last few lines for "The Adventure of the Final Problem", receives a package containing a breathing device of Mycroft's that Holmes had noticed before the summit. Realizing that Holmes is still alive, Watson leaves his office to find the delivery man. Holmes, having concealed himself in Watson's office, reads a fresh eulogy on Watson's typewriter and adds a question mark after the words "The End".
- At Sherlock Holmes' funeral, his epitaph reads: "In Loving Memory of Sherlock Holmes 1854-1891. He Played the Game for the Game's Own Sake". This is a reference to a line Holmes makes in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", added at the request of professional Holmesian scholar Leslie S. Klinger, a consultant to the film.
- While Watson was writing the final lines of the book, his wife mentions that Sherlock would have wanted them to go on vacation; Sherlock can clearly be heard chuckling in the background.
- Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes
- Jude Law as Dr John Watson
- Noomi Rapace as Madame Simza Heron
- Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler
- Jared Harris as Professor James Moriarty
- Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes
- Paul Anderson as Colonel Sebastian Moran
- Kelly Reilly as Mary Watson
- Geraldine James as Mrs Hudson
- Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade
After the success of Sherlock Holmes (2009 film) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Warner Brothers gave the go-ahead to produce a third instalment, hiring writer Drew Pearce – who worked on the other two films – to write the script, with producer Dan Lin saying in December 2012, that the film was "in development".
However, work has been slow, with Lin also saying that they were, "waiting for Downey to finish [Iron Man 3] and to get a script from Drew". In January 2013, Jude Law said that the film might not happen that year, revealing that "Robert [Downey Jr.]'s been very busy and I’ve been busy and it just hasn't lined up yet ... I don't think it'll be this year. But that's alright, the interest is still there". In November 2013, Law stated that interest was still there, although it had still not been officially confirmed.
In May 2018 Warner Bros. announced that Sherlock Holmes 3 would be released on 25th December, 2020. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are returning, with Chris Brancato credited as screenwriter and Joel Silver, Susan Downey and Lionel Wigram returning as producers. Village Roadshow is also returning as co-producer. The release date was later pushed back to Christmas 2021 On July 11, 2019, it was revealed that Guy Ritchie would not return to direct the third film, and that Dexter Fletcher would replace him.
- "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". Box Office Mojo.
- Fleming, Mike Jr. (2011-10-23). "Warner Bros Ready For 'Sherlock Holmes 3'". Retrieved 2014-05-12.
- NME Film & TV News (2013-02-01). "'Sherlock Holmes 3' is unlikely to happen this year, says Jude Law". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- Walsh, Katie (2012-01-28). "Jude Law Says New Wes Anderson Film Takes Place In Two Eras; Updates On 'Sherlock 3' & Herzog's 'Queen Of The Desert'". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- Dibdin, Emma (2013-09-04). "Jude Law offers an update on Guy Ritchie's 'Sherlock Holmes 3'". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (2018-05-07). "Warner Bros. Dates ‘Sherlock Holmes 3’ For Christmas 2020". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- McClintock, Pamela (2019-03-04). "'Sherlock Holmes 3' Pushed Back a Year to Christmas 2021".
- Kroll, Justin (2019-07-11). "‘Rocketman’s’ Dexter Fletcher to Direct ‘Sherlock Holmes 3’ (EXCLUSIVE)".