Enola Holmes 2 (Review) – A Sleuth Sequel On Par With The Original

DIRECTOR: Harry Bradbeer

CAST: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Louis Partridge, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, David Thewlis, Helena Bonham Carter, Gabriel Tierney, Hannah Dodd, Abbie Hern, Serranna Su-Ling Bliss, Róisín Monaghan

RUNNING TIME: 129 mins

CERTIFICATE: 12A

BASICALLY…: Young detective Enola Holmes (Brown) dives head-first into her first proper case…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

This summer, Netflix’s Stranger Things reclaimed its status as a bona fide cultural phenomenon with a fourth season full of terrifying villains, poignant character drama, and Kate Bush needle-drops. For one of its stars, Eleven herself Millie Bobby Brown, it isn’t enough to settle for top dog, and has set out to continue dominating the streamer’s mostly dry (in terms of quality rather than quantity) 2022 output with a follow-up to her 2020 feature Enola Holmes, a fun and charming movie at the time, but like most of Netflix’s direct-to-streaming movies it’s struggled to stay in people’s minds long after the fact.

A similar fate possibly beckons for Enola Holmes 2, a movie which much like its predecessor is an entertaining and heavily amusing mystery adventure, but don’t be surprised if you end up forgetting it in three or four months’ time.

The sequel takes places shortly after the events of the first film, as young Enola Homes (Brown) – the younger sister of esteemed detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) – sets up her own detective agency, but quickly finds it difficult to escape from her older brother’s shadow, as well as the fact that, as a young woman in Victorian society, nobody takes her seriously. Just as she’s about to pack it in, she is approached by young matchgirl Bess (Serranna Su-Ling Bliss) who wants Enola to investigate the disappearance of her older sister Sarah (Hannah Dodd) after she allegedly stole some damaging documents from the match factory in which they work. Enola’s sleuthing skills soon find her being pursued by dodgy coppers, led by the slimy Superintendent Grail (David Thewlis), and being forced to reluctantly rely on the help of Sherlock – who is struggling to deduce his own latest case – and also her former acquaintance Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) in order to solve the case, and uncover a web of deadly corruption in the process.

With most members of the original cast returning, along with creative team members like director Harry Bradbeer and writer Jack Thorne, Enola Holmes 2 certainly feels like a follow-up that comes directly from the same people who made that first movie, with pretty much everything that worked about that film being brought back as well. There’s plenty of charm to go around, whether it’s Millie Bobby Brown’s spirited turn as the titular young detective, her genuinely believable chemistry with Louis Partridge, Henry Cavill being a pretty good Sherlock Holmes (and, once again, making a strong case for headlining his own movie as the infamous sleuth), and a number of fun action set-pieces with some apt fourth-wall breaking spliced in between. Often, it does feel like they simply went with the “bigger is better” motif that most sequels tend to adopt, but it’s fun to watch it all unfold, and you can tell that the actors and the filmmakers aren’t sleepwalking through what could have easily been a numbing contractual obligation for them. The film has a lot of energy to burn, and it does a decent job at keeping a steady pace without letting itself slip too much into self-seriousness.

However, there are also as many things that didn’t entirely work about that first Enola Holmes adventure that are brought back as they are things that did. The 2020 film contained a mystery that wasn’t too hard to solve, and although the pieces are a bit trickier to put together this time, it’s still one that often shows its hand to the viewer, enough to where it reminds them of things that happened only minutes prior. I understand that both these movies are geared more toward younger viewers, but it would still be nice to see them try to play with their basic expectations a bit more than they currently are. It’s also one of those movies where, much like its predecessor, it tries a bit too hard to deliver its poignant feminist themes; while the intentions are certainly grand and entirely noble, it’s the delivery that always feels so forced, and in this case there are even direct ties into an actual historical event that is here reframed with a corny Norma Rae-like soapbox speech during the movie’s final third. It’s one of many moments designed to elicit applause for its progressive stance, which again isn’t a bad thing but could have been dealt with in not quite as blatant or even as eye-rolling a manner.

For all its share of strengths and faults, I’d say Enola Holmes 2 is about on par with the original. Both movies are fun, entertaining, and easy to like, but equally don’t manage to be completely successful when tackling wider issues or giving the viewer a plentiful mystery that really plays with their expectations. Unfortunately, as with a lot of Netflix movies, they’re also ones that aren’t likely to stick around in your memory after a short while, because while they’re fun in the moment, there isn’t much that warrants a second viewing, by which point you’ll be distracted by the dozen latest releases on the streamer. How they can make it so that a potential third Enola Holmes adventure manages to gain more longevity in the mind, is a real mystery worth solving.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Enola Holmes 2 is a fun sequel that more or less remains on par with its predecessor, retaining the same amount of charm and energy thanks to spirited performances by the likes of Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill, but equally just as many faults like its forcefully delivered feminist themes.

Enola Holmes 2 will be released on Netflix from Friday 4th November 2022.

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