Film Review: Enola Holmes 2
Enola Holmes 2
Director: Henry Bradbeer
Legendary Pictures and PCMA Productions
Streaming on Netflix 11.04
When historians look back on the early years of streaming, memories may be a bit fuzzy as to whether Netflix made Millie Bobby Brown famous, or perhaps the other way around. The arrival of Enola Holmes 2, the follow up to the 2020 hit, signals that the young star has brought the streaming giant the one thing they’ve had so much trouble finding on their own: a genuine movie franchise.
Enola Holmes 2 begins with the titular heroine fresh off of successfully solving her first case and setting out to go into business as a detective, following in the footsteps of her brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Enola finds that a person of both her age and her gender isn’t taken very seriously in this game: she’s not getting any clients; that is, until a young matchgirl named Bessie (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) comes to her for help finding her missing sister. With the game afoot, Enola is taken from the backgroms of seedy music halls to mingling with the upper crust of London society, and finds herself implicated in a serious crime. She is reunited her with her famous sibling, who fears that his little sister is turning into the one thing he never wanted her to be—himself.
The biggest strength of Enola Holmes 2 is the emphasis on the relationship between Enola and Sherlock, and it provides for plenty of sweet and surprisingly insightful character moments. The mystery itself, which is based on the real-life Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888, is involving yet quite predictable at times, and includes one genuinely surprising and clever twist. There’s enough action and intrigue all around to keep things moving quite effectively, and while the device of Enola speaking directly to the camera feels a bit more labored than it did the first time around, it still works, especially for a franchise aimed at young adult audiences. Enola Holmes 2 averages out to be one of the most satisfying sequels of the year.
Brown once again proves to be a true star of the highest order, able to make any material soar as long as she is given center stage, and the chemistry with Cavill—who has settled into the role nicely—is much stronger this time. The budding romance between Enola and Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge, The Lost Girls) is charming and the supporting cast is strong. David Thewlis (Wonder Woman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things) is a tad on the hammy side as Inspector Griel, a policeman intent on staying one step ahead of the Holmeses, though he walks the line between entertaining scenery chewing and full on camp with enough finesse that it plays for the most part.
The emphasis on making the cast more diverse this time around is apparent, further stoking the divide between those who believe that Disney, Netflix and the liberal agenda are out to destroy America, and those of us who don’t find it necessary to strip naked to count to 21. Personally, I found it to be an entirely welcome choice, especially for a property that has remained almost exclusively white for over a century, and one particularly brilliant variation on a classic character proves to be a major highlight. The score by Daniel Pemberton, the most wonderfully prolific composer of 2022, keeps the rousing sense of suspense, adventure and unbridled fun going full force from the first frame to the last, and director Henry Bradbeer keeps the pacing tight and the atmospheric touches rich and thrilling.
Enola Holmes 2 is nothing new by any means, and while some will feel that it takes itself a bit too seriously, it’s a terrific sequel that knows its audience, aims to please and does so with great success. Even after Stranger Things is over, we can certainly expect Brown to return to Netflix for at least one more entry in this highly enjoyable series of films, and it’s hard to watch Enola Holmes 2 without getting excited about where she might be headed once she’s able to devote herself to being a movie star full time. –Patrick Gibbs