REVIEW: ALIEN: COVENANT – PROLOGUE: THE CROSSING

CAST

Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon tattoo)

The Crossing, an official prologue short to Alien: Covenant, reveals what happened to crew members Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and the synthetic David after the events of Prometheus. Set aboard an abandoned Engineer vessel, Dr. Shaw repairs David as they continue their search for humanity’s creatorsPrologue: The Crossing shows us what happened right after Prometheus and expands a little on the Engineers and David. Having watched it after Covenant the other day, I strongly believe it should have been made a part of it, not a separate online release. You’ll understand why after you see Covenant for yourself. If you’re an Alien fan then this little short will add more cohesion and structure to the narrative so definitely watch it before seeing Covenant, as well as Prologue: Last Supper. Also, check out this Alien/Predator time-line to better understand the order of events in what seems to start looking like a little big mess:

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REVIEW: PROMETHEUS

CAST
Noomi Rapace (Sherlocks Holmes 2)
Michael Fassbender (300)
Charlize Theron (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Idris Elba (Star Trek Beyond)
Guy Pearce (Memento)
Logan Marshall-Green (Across The Universe)
Sean Harris (Mission Impossible 5)
Rafe Spell (What If)
Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones)
As a spacecraft departs a planet, a humanoid alien drinks an iridescent liquid; then dissolves. The remains of the alien cascade into a waterfall.
In 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map in Scotland that matches others from several unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as an invitation from humanity’s forerunners, the “Engineers”. Peter Weyland, the elderly CEO of Weyland Corporation, funds an expedition to follow the map to the distant moon LV-223 aboard the scientific vessel Prometheus. The ship’s crew travels in stasis while the android David monitors their voyage. Arriving in 2093, Mission director Meredith Vickers informs them of their mission to find the Engineers, and not to make contact without her permission.
The Prometheus lands on the barren, mountainous surface near a large artificial structure, which a team explores. Inside they find stone cylinders, a monolithic statue of a humanoid head, and the decapitated corpse of a large alien, thought to be an Engineer; Shaw recovers its head. The crew finds other bodies, leading them to surmise the species is extinct. Crew members Millburn and Fifield grow uncomfortable with the discoveries and attempt to return to Prometheus, but become stranded in the structure when they get lost. The expedition is cut short when a storm forces the crew to return to the ship. David secretly takes a cylinder from the structure, while the remaining cylinders begin leaking a dark liquid. In the ship’s lab, the Engineer’s DNA is found to match that of humans. David investigates the cylinder and the liquid inside. He intentionally taints a drink with the liquid and gives it to an unsuspecting Holloway, who had stated he would do anything for answers. Shortly after, Shaw and Holloway have sex.
Inside the structure, a snake-like creature kills Millburn, and sprays a corrosive fluid that melts Fifield’s helmet. Fifield falls face-first into a puddle of dark liquid. When the crew return, they find Millburn’s corpse. David separately discovers a control room containing a surviving Engineer in stasis, and a star map highlighting Earth. Meanwhile, Holloway sickens rapidly. He is rushed back to Prometheus, but Vickers refuses to let him aboard, and at his urging, burns him to death with a flamethrower. Later, a medical scan reveals that Shaw, despite being sterile, is pregnant. Fearing the worst, she uses an automated surgery table to extract a squid-like creature from her abdomen. Shaw then discovers that Weyland has been in stasis aboard Prometheus. He explains that he wants to ask the Engineers to prevent his death from old age. As Weyland prepares to leave for the structure, Vickers addresses him as “Father.”
A monstrous, mutated Fifield attacks the Prometheus ’s hangar bay and kills several crew members before he is killed. The Prometheus ’s captain, Janek, speculates that the structure was an Engineer military installation that lost control of a virulent biological weapon, the dark liquid. He also determines that the structure houses a spacecraft. Weyland and a team return to the structure, accompanied by Shaw. David wakes the Engineer from stasis and speaks to him in an attempt to explain what Weyland wants. The Engineer responds by decapitating David and killing Weyland and his team, before reactivating the spacecraft. Shaw flees and warns Janek that the Engineer is planning to release the liquid on Earth, convincing him to stop the spacecraft. Janek ejects the lifeboat and rams Prometheus into the alien craft, while Vickers flees in an escape pod. The Engineer’s disabled spacecraft crashes onto the ground; its wreckage crushes Vickers. Shaw goes to the lifeboat and finds her alien offspring is alive and has grown to gigantic size. David’s still-active head warns Shaw that the Engineer has survived. The Engineer forces open the lifeboat’s airlock and attacks Shaw, who releases her alien offspring onto the Engineer; it thrusts an ovipositor down the Engineer’s throat, subduing him. Shaw recovers David’s remains, and with his help, launches another Engineer spacecraft. She intends to reach the Engineers’ homeworld in an attempt to understand why they wanted to destroy humanity.
In the lifeboat, an alien creature bursts out of the Engineer’s chest.
Similar in many ways to the first Alien film which I have continued to enjoy irrespective of how old it now is. I thought all of the characters believable & the storey line developed interestingly. The effects were great too. Good film without too much blood & gore.

REVIEW: DEAD MAN DOWN

CAST

Colin Farrell (Minority report)
Noomi Rapace (Prometheus)
Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter)
Terence Howard (Iron Man)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
F. Murray Abraham (Last Action Hero)

Victor (Colin Farrell) has infiltrated a criminal empire run by ruthless kingpin Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard). His objective is to make Alphonse pay for the murder of his wife and young daughter (Accalia Quintana) two years earlier. Victor intends to exact revenge on Alphonse through physical and psychological torture before finally killing him.Victor watches and is watched by Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a mysterious young woman who lives in the apartment across from his. Beatrice begins to contact Victor and show interest in him. On their first date, Beatrice reveals her true motivation: she has a video of Victor killing a man, and will go to the police unless Victor kills the drunk driver who disfigured her face.Meanwhile, Alphonse is receiving threats against his life by Victor. During a shoot-out with Jamaicans whom he believes responsible for the threats, Victor saves his life and thus gains his trust. As the threats intensify, a man within Alphonse’s crew and a friend of Victor’s, Darcy (Dominic Cooper), investigates their source. Victor has also kidnapped the brother of Albanian kingpin Ilir Brozi (James Biberi), who was involved in helping Alphonse dispose of Victor’s family. Victor plans to pool the Albanians and Alphonse’s men together so he can eliminate them all at once.Victor stages a deliberately failed sniper attack on Alphonse from a rooftop in continuing his plans of torture. However, he nearly is caught in the process and manages to escape thanks to Beatrice, who has been following Victor. Ilir’s brother, who was kidnapped by Victor, has been held tied up and blindfolded in an abandoned ship (the S.S. United States, which, although the film is set in New York City, was, during production, and of late 2014 still is, docked in Philadelphia). Victor makes a video in which Ilir’s brother claims that he is being held in the basement of Alphonse’s warehouse, in an effort to frame Alphonse, which would lure the Albanians to the warehouse in retaliation, thereby having them all rounded up in one place. He then kills Ilir’s brother. Beatrice is given the memory card with the video to mail to Ilir in order to make it seem like Alphonse’s crew was responsible for his brother’s kidnapping. Alphonse, now knowing the threats are coming from someone within his crew, becomes suspicious but reluctant to believe that Victor is the traitor due to him previously saving his life. Victor later notifies Beatrice that he didn’t kill the drunk driver so that they can spend more time together, knowing the psychological effect that the murder would have had on her. Victor sets up a trap for the Albanians and Alphonse, but Beatrice reveals through a call that she didn’t mail the memory card because she didn’t want to see Victor die. At that moment, Darcy, who has found Victor’s true intentions while investigating his apartment, subdues Beatrice and informs Victor she is being held captive at Alphonse’s house.As Alphonse and the Albanians gather in the house, Victor crashes into the house with his truck. Victor spares Darcy’s life in the ensuing gunfight and makes his way to the top floor where Beatrice is held by Alphonse and Ilir. Beatrice escapes their watch while they are distracted by Victor’s successful advance, and she begins to play the video on a computer. As Ilir hears the video, he turns his gun on Alphonse who he believes has betrayed him. They both end up shooting each other dead. As Victor escapes with Beatrice, Darcy confronts them with his gun raised. When asked if he spared Darcy because he has a wife and child (“Did you not kill me because I’ve got a wife and a kid?”), Victor replies, “No, because they’ve got you” before dropping his gun. Darcy also lowers his gun and allows the two to leave. Victor and Beatrice travel home on a subway and share a kiss.This is far more about the set up than the act itself. There are action moments of course, especially the final climax, but the focus is more on building up subtle tension rather than plenty of shooting. It’s nicely shot too, not to glamorous not bleak and the story plods at a nice steady pace. Definitely worth a watch and something different to the usual revenge films.

REVIEW: THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST

CAST

Noomi Rapace (Prometheus)
Michael Nyqvist (John Wick)
Lena Endre (The Master)
Georgi Staykov (Mission London)
Annika Hallin (Glowing Stars)
Per Oscarsson (Midsommer)

The film begins at the conclusion of the The Girl Who Played with Fire. Salander is airlifted to a hospital in Gothenburg, to recover from gunshot wounds inflicted by her father, Zala. She is cared for by Dr. Anders Jonasson, who prevents anyone except Annika Giannini, her lawyer, from visiting.

At the same time, Evert Gullberg and Fredrik Clinton, old colleagues from the “Section,” a group within the Swedish Security Service, reconnect and decide that they must silence Zalachenko and Salander to preserve cold-war secrets. Zalachenko is still alive, in a hospital room down the hall from Salander. Gullberg arrives at the hospital at the same time as Giannini, proceeds to Zalachenko’s room, and shoots him dead. Giannini saves Salander by barricading the door to Salander’s room. Gullberg, unable to reach Salander, shoots himself. Clinton visits psychiatrist Dr. Peter Teleborian, and explains his plan to silence Salander by having her committed to St. Stephen’s mental hospital again. Dr. Teleborian tries to meet with Salander to conduct a psychological evaluation, but is obstructed by her doctor, Dr. Jonasson.

Blomkvist persuades Dr. Jonasson to sneak an internet phone (a Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 in the film) into Salander’s room, whereupon Salander immediately contacts her fellow hacker, Plague, to see if he can find something on Dr. Teleborian. She then tells Blomkvist that Giannini has permission to use a video showing Nils Bjurman in the act of raping her. Bjurman was her state-appointed guardian and one of the people she is accused of murdering. Blomkvist compels a civil servant, Bertil Janeryd, to reveal that Gullberg and Rottinger had visited the Prime Minister years ago to urge a cover-up of the Zalachenko affair. Salander starts working on an autobiography to document her actions and motives from childhood to the present. She continues to have nightmares of memories about her time at St. Stephen’s, her father and half-brother, and of her two-hour ordeal with Bjurman. Blomkvist continues to pursue Dr. Teleborian with Christer’s help. Salander finishes her autobiography and e-mails it to Blomkvist, and Dr. Jonasson informs Lisbeth she cannot remain at the hospital, but must be transferred to prison in a few days. He is surprised that she is not worried about the trial.

Niedermann, who previously tried to kill Salander’s lover Miriam, has remained a fugitive, wanted for killing a police officer. Sonny, of the outlaw motorcycle gang from the previous film, is informed that he was searched, but found clean, and that his friend had sent Niedermann to hide out in his home. There, he finds his brother dead and his girlfriend tied, gagged, and apparently assaulted. She tells him that Niedermann was the culprit, and Sonny vows revenge. Clinton, in dialysis, is given a copy of Salander’s autobiography, and is told that none of it can be proven. Meanwhile, Berger has been receiving anonymous e-mail threats, which causes an uproar in the office. In prison, Salander is interrogated by the prosecutor, but says nothing. Giannini is later given Salander’s computer and the DVD of her sexual abuse. Niedermann breaks into an abandoned warehouse and kills a bicyclist who happens to be there having his lunch. Dr. Teleborian finally meets with Salander, who again remains silent. When Berger’s bedroom window is smashed, she calls Milton Security. Thanks to surveillance by Milton Security, Blomkvist learns that someone that night broke into his apartment and planted cocaine and cash there. He concludes that the Section are trying to frame him, since they cannot hurt the Millennium magazine itself. Blomkvist decides to meet Berger at a restaurant named “Samir’s Gryta.” The police try to warn Berger of an attempt to kill them there, and Blomkvist fends off the assault as the police rush to the restaurant. The Section becomes dismayed upon learning of the failed attempt.

On the day of her murder trial, Salander finally sheds her hospital-patient persona and enters court with piercings, a mohawk hairstyle, black makeup, and expensive black leather clothing. Called as an expert witness for the prosecution, Dr. Teleborian characterizes Salander’s autobiography as merely the product of her paranoid delusions. Giannini gradually demolishes Dr. Teleborian’s credibility, using Salander’s words and files from the hospital. She shows the video proving Bjurman raped Salander.

As Giannini presents her case, the police arrest the people involved with the Section and seize their place of operation. Called to the stand, Blomkvist shows that Dr. Teleborian had written his final psychiatric evaluation of Salander after being denied access by her doctor. Then Giannini calls Edklinth to the stand, and he states that the opinions were formulated in cooperation with Jonas Sandberg, using his computer as proof. Dr. Teleborian is left speechless. Edklinth tells Dr. Teleborian he is to be arrested on charges of possessing over 8,000 items of child pornography (which Plague had discovered after hacking into his laptop), and his computer is seized as evidence. After Dr. Teleborian is arrested, the court rules that no further need exists for Salander to be held in police custody.
The Millennium staff celebrate their victory, as Erika returns and reconciles with Mikael. Salander is encouraged by Giannini to check the property she has inherited from Zala and discovers the warehouse where Niedermann was hiding. Niedermann attempts to trap her there and kill her, but she is too fast and clever for that. She ambushes him with a nail gun and attaches Niedermann’s feet to the wooden platform on which he is standing. His inability to feel pain finally works against him. By the time he realizes what is happening, it is too late for him to escape. She considers nailing him in the head, but instead phones Sonny and tells the bikers where to find him. Then she calls the police. Salander returns home, and Blomkvist briefly visits to tell her that the motorcycle gang killed Niedermann and were arrested at the warehouse afterwards. Lisbeth and Mikael have a brief conversation that might or might not be a prelude to a further relationship.The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest provides a cracking closure and gives you exactly what you want in style.

REVIEW: THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE

CAST

Noomi Rapace (Prometheus)
Michael Nyqvist (John Wick)
Lena Endre (The Master)
Peter Andersson (Underworld Blood Wars)
Per Oscarsson (Midsommer)
Georgi Staykov (Mission London)
Annika Hallin (Glowing Stars)
Tanja Lorentzon (Wallander)

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) purchases an apartment in Stockholm. On returning to Sweden after nearly a year living abroad, Salander reconnects with her former lover Miriam Wu (Yasmine Garbi) and offers her free use of her previous home in return for forwarding her mail. Later, Salander confronts Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson) after hacking into his mail and discovering he has an appointment booked with a tattoo removal specialist. Threatening him with his own gun, she warns him not to remove the tattoo that she etched on his abdomen as revenge for sexually abusing her, marking him as “a pervert, a rapist and a sadistic pig.”

Millennium magazine welcomes Dag Svensson (Hans Christian Thulin), a new journalist who is writing an exposé on prostitution and human trafficking in Sweden. Dag’s girlfriend, Mia Bergman, is writing her doctoral thesis on sex trafficking. Dag is nearly finished with the story and is confronting those who will be exposed by the article. Dag and his girlfriend are about to leave on a holiday and ask Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) to come to his apartment and collect some photographs. At the same time Dag also asks Mikael to inquire about someone called “Zala,” who may have a connection to his present research. Mikael arrives at their apartment late at night to collect photographs for the article but finds the two sources lying dead. The murder weapon is tracked to Bjurman who is also deceased. Lisbeth Salander is the prime suspect, as her fingerprints happen to be on the gun as well. Salander tells Blomkvist that she did not kill anyone and that he needs to find the mysterious “Zala.”

In an effort to find Lisbeth’s residence, Mikael contacts her boxing trainer and friend, Paolo Roberto. While he is unaware of Salander’s whereabouts, Paolo does know Miriam, who also trained with them, and promises to pay her a visit. Near her apartment, Paolo witnesses Miriam being kidnapped by strongman Niedermann. Paolo follows his car to a deserted barn, where he hears him beat Miriam for information about Salander. Paolo comes in to rescue her but Niedermann is more than a match for the skilled boxer. Niedermann sets the barn aflame to finish the job, but the two manage to escape.

News breaks of the attack and Paolo gives his account to the police. After Blomkvist leaves information he has discovered about the case on his computer for Salander to hack into and read, she leaves a message to him saying, “Thank you for being my friend.” He realizes that she intends to set out alone to find the man who framed her and that she may not survive. A disguised Salander visits Miriam in hospital to apologize for getting her involved. Without giving anything away, Salander confirms the police sketch of Niedermann with Miriam and then disappears. Knowing now that he is Salander’s friend, Miriam calls Blomkvist to the hospital to give him keys that Lisbeth accidentally dropped during her visit. Noticing that one of them is for a post office box, Mikael is able to access and read Salander’s mail and locate her apartment. Meanwhile, Salander continues her efforts to find Niedermann by patiently staking out his post office box. She eventually sees someone retrieve his mail and follows him to a small house near Gosseberga. Researching through the material in Lisbeth’s apartment Blomkvist finds the video of Bjurman raping Salander.

In the offices of Millennium magazine, Paolo explains he tracked down Niedermann and learned that he has congenital analgesia which makes him doubly formidable because he cannot feel pain. They trace Niedermann to a company owned by “Karl Axel Bodin.” Blomkvist has Erika Berger make copies of the documents including the 1993 police report, forwards the originals to Bublanski and sets out to find Salander. Salander crosses the grounds and enters the Gosseberga house, but Niedermann has been alerted by motion detectors and knocks her out. She awakens to see her father, Alexander Zalachenko, an old man who walks with a stick and is heavily scarred by the burns she inflicted as a child. He dismisses her mother (who is now dead) as a whore and belittles her rape at the hands of Bjurman. He reveals that Niedermann is her half-brother. Niedermann killed Bjurman to prevent him from revealing any of Zalachenko’s secrets. Zalachenko is confident he will not be caught, since being an invalid means the idea of his involvement in the murders lacks plausibility.

They lead Lisbeth to a shallow grave in the woods. She tells him the police will find him soon and all that he has said has been published online through her hidden cellphone. Seeing through her bluff, he shoots Lisbeth at close range several times as she attempts to escape and buries her alive. Left for dead, Salander digs her way out using her silver-plated cigarette case gifted to her by Wu. Hidden in the woodshed, she surprises Zalachenko with an axe. She then keeps Niedermann at bay, both with Zalachenko’s gun and Niedermann’s delusions, just as Blomkvist comes coasting up the driveway. Ambulances and police arrive to take away Salander and Zalachenko who are both very badly injured.The Girl Who Played With Fire doesn’t have the spark of the first movie, but it still has an electric brilliance and scathing social exploration.

REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009)

CAST

Noomi Rapace (Prometheus)
Michael Nyqvist (John Wick)
Lena Endre (The Master)
Sven-Bertil Taube (London Voodoo)
Peter Haber (Beck)
Peter Andersson (Underworld Blood Wars)
Marika Lagercrantz (All Things Fair)
Ingvar Hirdwall(Mouth To Mouth)
Björn Granath (The Ox)

In December 2002, Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of Millennium magazine, loses a libel case involving allegations he published about billionaire financier Hans-Erik Wennerström. He is sentenced to three months in prison and a hefty fine. Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but damaged surveillance agent and hacker, is hired by Henrik Vanger, the patriarch of the wealthy Vanger family, to investigate Blomkvist. Vanger then hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his niece, Harriet, who vanished on Children’s Day in 1966. Vanger believes that Harriet was murdered by a family member.

Salander, who was ruled mentally incompetent as a child, is appointed a new legal guardian, Nils Bjurman, after her previous guardian suffers a stroke. Bjurman, a sexual sadist, forces Salander to perform fellatio on him in return for the money she needs to buy a new computer; he withholds the full amount she has requested. At her next meeting with Bjurman, he beats and rapes her. Having used a hidden camera to record Bjurman raping her, Salander returns to take her revenge, torturing and threatening to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her life and finances. She then uses a tattoo gun to brand Bjurman’s abdomen with the message “I am a sadist pig and a rapist”.

Blomkvist moves to a cottage on the Vanger estate and meets the Vanger family, including Harriet’s brother Martin and cousin Cecilia. Inside Harriet’s diary, he finds a list of five names alongside what might appear to be phone numbers. He visits retired police inspector Morell, who informs him that his investigation team had been unable to decipher them. After viewing photographs taken during the Children’s Day parade, Blomkvist sees Harriet’s facial expression change suddenly just before she leaves and, after obtaining photographs taken from the same side of the street as her, comes to believe that Harriet may have seen her murderer that day.

Using her access to Blomkvist’s computer, Salander learns that the numbers in Harriet’s diary are references to verses in the Book of Leviticus and emails Blomkvist anonymously. Blomkvist works out that Salander sent the mail and hires her as a research assistant. Together, Blomkvist and Salander connect all but one of the names on Harriet’s list to murdered women. They are all Jewish names, which intrigues Blomkvist, as the Vanger family has a long history of antisemitism. During the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander become lovers.

They suspect Henrik’s reclusive brother Harald to be the murderer, as the two other Vanger brothers had already died by the time Harriet disappeared. Salander searches through Vanger’s business records to trace Harald to the crime scenes, while Blomkvist breaks into Harald’s house, believing it to be unoccupied. When Harald attacks Blomkvist, Martin appears and saves him. He escorts Blomkvist to his home, where Blomkvist reveals what he and Salander have uncovered. Martin drugs him. Salander’s search of the company accounts points to Martin and his late father, Gottfried, having been jointly responsible for the murders. She returns to the cottage to find Blomkvist missing. Blomkvist wakes to find himself bound in Martin’s cellar. Martin boasts about raping and murdering women for decades but denies killing Harriet, insisting that she disappeared. As Martin is in the process of hanging Blomkvist, Salander appears and attacks Martin with a golf club. While she frees Blomkvist, Martin flees in his car. Salander gives chase on her motorcycle. When Martin drives off the road, Salander finds him still alive but trapped in the vehicle. As the car goes up in flames, she makes no attempt to save him.
Blomkvist realizes that Cecilia’s late sister Anita was the near-double of Harriet and that some of the film taken on the day of Harriet’s disappearance show Anita, not Harriet as previously thought. Blomkvist and Salander discover that Harriet has been using Anita’s name and is still alive in Australia. Blomkvist flies there to look for her, and he persuades her to return to Sweden, where she is reunited with her uncle. Harriet explains the truth about her disappearance: that her father and her brother had repeatedly raped her; that she killed her father by drowning him, only to find herself being blackmailed by Martin; and that her cousin Anita had smuggled her away from the island.

Salander’s mother, living in a nursing home, apologizes for not choosing a “better papa” for her. Salander then visits Blomkvist in prison and gives him new information on the Wennerström case. After his release, Blomkvist publishes a new story on Wennerström in Millennium, which ruins Wennerström and makes the magazine a national sensation. Wennerström is then found dead, a presumed suicide. His offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands is raided; the police suspect a young woman caught on CCTV, whom Blomkvist recognizes as Salander in disguise. The film ends with Salander, dressed very smartly as she exits her car, walking along a sunny beach promenade.This is a highly effective thriller, one of the darkest and most exciting I’ve ever seen. The story in itself is no better than those laid out in dozens of other thrillers or whodunnits, but it is beautifully, virtually flawlessly realized. A must-see.

REVIEW: SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
Jude Law (Spy)
Noomi Rapace (Prometheus)
Rahcel McAdams (Mean Girls)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Stephen Fry (The Hobbit 2)
Geraldine James (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Kelly Reilly (Flight)
Eddie Marsan (Hancock)
Clive Russell (The 13th Warrior)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows hero

In 1891, Irene Adler delivers a package to Herr Dr. Hoffmanstahl; payment for a letter he was to deliver. Hoffmanstahl opens the package, triggering a hidden bomb that is prevented from detonating by the intervention of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes takes the letter while Adler and Hoffmanstahl escape. Holmes finds Hoffmanstahl assassinated moments later. Adler meets with Professor Moriarty to explain the events, but Moriarty poisons and kills her — deeming her position compromised by her love for Holmes. Later, Dr. Watson arrives at 221B Baker Street, where Holmes discloses that he is investigating a series of seemingly unrelated murders, terrorist attacks and business acquisitions around the globe that he has connected to Moriarty. After meeting up with his brother Mycroft at Watson’s bachelor party, Holmes meets with Gypsy fortune-teller Simza, the intended recipient of the letter he took from Adler, sent by her brother Rene. Holmes defeats an assassin sent to kill Simza, but she flees before Holmes can interrogate her. After the wedding of Watson and Mary Morstan, Holmes meets Moriarty for the first time. Voicing his respect for Holmes’ perseverance, Moriarty informs Holmes that he murdered Adler. Holmes subtly requests Watson and Mary be left alone now that Watson is no longer working with him, but Moriarty indicates he will kill them anyway. Holmes vengefully vows to defeat him.
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Moriarty’s men attack Watson and Mary on a train to their honeymoon. Holmes, having followed the pair to protect them, throws Mary from the train into a river below where she is rescued by Mycroft. After defeating Moriarty’s men, Holmes and Watson travel to Paris to locate Simza. When she is found, Holmes tells Simza that she has been targeted because Rene is working for Moriarty, and may have told her about his plans. Simza takes the pair to the headquarters of an anarchist group to which she and Rene had formerly belonged. They learn that the anarchists have been forced to plant bombs for Moriarty.

The trio follows Holmes’ deduction that the bomb is in the Paris Opera. However, Holmes realizes too late that he has been tricked and that the bomb is in a nearby hotel; the bomb kills a number of assembled businessmen. Holmes discovers that the bomb was a cover for the specific assassination of Alfred Meinhard, one of the attendees, by Moriarty’s henchman, Sebastian Moran. Meinhard’s death grants Moriarty ownership of Meinhard’s arms factory in Germany. Holmes, Watson and Simza travel there, following clues in Rene’s letters. At the factory, Moriarty captures, interrogates and tortures Holmes while Watson fights Moran. Holmes spells out Moriarty’s plot, revealing that the Professor secretly acquired shares in multiple war profiteering companies using varies pseudonyms to conceal his identity, and intends to instigate a world war to make himself a fortune. Meanwhile, Watson uses the cannon he had been hiding behind to destroy the watchtower in which Moran is concealed. The structure collapses into the warehouse where Moriarty is holding Holmes captive. Watson, Simza, and an injured Holmes reunite and escape aboard a moving train. Holmes deduces that Moriarty’s final target will be a peace summit in Switzerland, creating an international incident.

At the summit, Holmes reveals that Rene is the assassin and that he is disguised as one of the ambassadors, having been given radical reconstructive surgery by Hoffmanstahl. Holmes and Moriarty, who is also in attendance, retreat upon a balcony to discuss their competing plans over a game of chess. Watson and Simza find Rene and stop his assassination attempt, but Rene is discreetly killed by Moran. Despite his war being averted, Moriarty remains confident in his victory, warning Holmes that the nations of Europe will inevitably go to war with one another regardless of Moriarty’s manipulations.

Holmes then reveals that, while being tortured by Moriarty, he replaced the doctor’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, before passing the information to Inspector Lestrade, who seizes Moriarty’s assets and donates his fortune to anti-war charities. Holmes and Moriarty anticipate an impending physical altercation, and both realise that Moriarty would win due to Holmes’ injured shoulder. Out of options and with the vindictive Moriarty promising to torture and kill Watson and Mary afterwards, Holmes grabs Moriarty and throws them both over the balcony and into the Reichenbach Falls below. The pair are presumed dead.

Following Holmes’ funeral, Watson and Mary prepare to have their belated honeymoon when Watson receives a package containing a breathing device of Mycroft’s that Holmes had noticed before the summit. Contemplating that Holmes may still be alive, Watson leaves his office to find the delivery man. Holmes, having concealed himself in Watson’s office, reads Watson’s memoirs on the typewriter and adds a question mark after the words “The End”.

The climatic scene between Holmes and Moriarty is a wonderful piece of storytelling and filmmaking. Even though this movie has some flaws, I think I enjoyed it more than the first one. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows once again takes liberties with the source materials, but it is lots of fun.