DISCLAIMER: This review of Enola Holmes 2 contains minimal spoilers.
If the past decade of TV and film has taught us anything, it’s that we’ll never grow tired of whodunit stories. More specifically, whodunit narratives involving a certain Arthur Conan Doyle character. From BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’s Elementary to the Robert Downey Jr.-led Sherlock Holmes film series, we as a society can’t get enough of Sherlock Holmes and his companions.
2020 brought about the film introduction of Enola Holmes, Sherlock’s younger sister who also takes up the detective mantle. Enola Holmes starred Millie Bobby Brown as the plucky titular character who embarks on a dangerous journey to track down her missing mother. Now, she’s back for more sleuthing in Enola Holmes 2, and the game is now afoot.
Enola Holmes 2 stars Brown, Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes, Louis Partridge as Tewkesbury, Susan Wokoma as Edith, Adeel Akhtar as Lestrade, David Thewlis, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes. Harry Bradbeer helmed the sequel from a script by himself and Jack Thorne.
Here’s a synopsis per Netflix Media Center:
Fresh off the triumph of solving her first case, Enola Holmes follows in the footsteps of her famous brother, Sherlock, and opens her own agency — only to find that life as a female detective-for-hire isn’t as easy as it seems. Resigned to accepting the cold realities of adulthood, she is about to close shop when a penniless matchstick girl offers Enola her first official job: to find her missing sister.
But this case proves to be far more puzzling than expected, as Enola is thrown into a dangerous new world — from London’s sinister factories and colorful music halls, to the highest echelons of society and 221B Baker Street itself. As the sparks of a deadly conspiracy ignite, Enola must call upon the help of friends — and Sherlock himself — to unravel her mystery. The game, it seems, has found its feet again!
Tone-wise, Enola Holmes 2 doesn’t drop the baton passed over by its predecessor. It’s as delightfully frenzied as ever, brimming with vim and vigor. Brown is simultaneously our anchor and the one steering the ship. She injects Enola with a cheeky vibrancy, naturally breaking the fourth wall like a pro. Thanks to Brown’s portrayal, Enola is a multifaceted, nuanced, endearing human. You’ll fall head over heels for her again.
Cavill’s role is expanded in the sequel. Enola Holmes 2 adds texture and color to Sherlock’s story, methodically incorporating well-known aspects of his life into the plot. Sherlock and Enola spend more time together. Brown and Cavill possess excellent onscreen chemistry as brother and sister, adopting that all-too-familiar playful sibling rivalry dynamic.
While Cavill’s portrayal of the famous detective isn’t as uniquely tailored or eccentric as Benedict Cumberbatch‘s, there’s something inexplicably comforting about his presence. His Sherlock is understated and somewhat aloof, at least at the film’s beginning. Cavill never goes over the top performance-wise, which would be easy to do with a role like Sherlock Holmes. He even has a few great comedic moments.
Thewlis and Duncan-Brewster are fantastic additions to the cast, with the former utilizing the opportunity to go larger than life (in a good way) and the latter offering a grounded, imposing performance. Partridge is just as charismatic and affable as in the first film. He harbors easy romantic chemistry with Brown. My only gripe on the acting front is that we don’t get enough time with Wokoma and Bonham Carter. Both are too brilliant to be shelved for so much of the movie’s runtime. That said, we do get a few narrative-rich scenes with them.
The Technical Stuff
Additionally, Bradbeer and Thorne craft another whimsical and immersive script as we get front-row seats to the inner workings of Enola’s brilliant mind. That’s easily one of the highlights of the flick: watching Enola work through the case in real time. The film’s scope feels bigger — bolder and sharper. The action sequences are surprisingly brutal for a movie marketed to teens/families. Daniel Pemberton’s effervescent, pulsating score complements the fast-paced and slower moments in equal measure. And much like the first film, the costumes in this sequel are things of beauty.
Enola Holmes 2 is challenging to critique because it’s not meant to be serious award-winning fare, nor does it take itself too seriously. It’s pure, cotton-candy escapism with a heaping helping of heart courtesy of Millie Bobby Brown. It’s like a warm plate of comfort food on a cold winter’s night. I had a blast while watching it, although I feel it would’ve been better served on the silver screen.
My two main complaints are its length and how closely it adheres to the formula laid out by its predecessor. While there are some surprises, Enola Holmes 2 doesn’t take any big narrative swings. It also clocks in at over two hours, which isn’t long for an action-packed summer tentpole, but we’re used to seeing lighter, breezier comedies with a shorter runtime. The climax occurs relatively late in the film. The script falters here and there on the pacing front.
All in all, Enola Holmes 2 is a charming and playful romp that maintains the boisterous energy of the first film. It wears its heart on its sleeve while pulling you in for a silly yet undeniably fun experience. Millie Bobby Brown proves she’s the glue that holds it together with her spirited performance.
Enola Holmes 2 will make its streaming debut this Friday, November 4, 2022, only on Netflix.