Review – Enola Holmes 2

Back in 2020, when the first Enola Holmes movie dropped to Netflix, it was a pleasant surprise. A fun young adult mystery film that was completely delightful and fun with Millie Bobby Brown showing off her acting chops as a lead, more than showing off that she is a true movie star in the making. So, when I say Enola Holmes 2 is more of the same, it’s not a dismissal of the film, nor a criticism, but rather exactly what it should be, another delightful mystery with Enola and her brother Sherlock.

Enola Holmes 2 sees the youngest Holmes sibling continue to partake in the real historical social changes of the UK in the Victorian era. Inspired by real life events of the Matchgirls’ Strike in 1888, the film is a wonderful little mystery through nineteenth century London, full of intrigue and social discussions. While it’s a little rough around the edges in terms of the mystery and the pacing, the sheer charm, delightful writing and the clever use of historical events create such a wonderful tone and thematic richness that it more than makes up for its shortcomings.

When a young girl (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) comes to Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) with the case of her missing sister, Enola gets swept up into her first official case as a private detective, digging into factory dealings, stagecraft and upper-class ballrooms, while she is hunted by Superintendent Grail (David Thewlis) and Inspector Lestrade (Adeel Akhtar). Meanwhile, Enola’s brother, the famous Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) is trying to solve a complex blackmail case, but it’s only together that Enola and Sherlock, with the help of Enola’s friends like their mother, Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter), the Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) and Edith (Susan Wokoma) can they hope to solve their cases.

Jack Thorne’s script is wonderfully charming, and that, along with a great feminist thematic focus, is its core strength. While there’s a lot to be said about a mystery film that has a wobbly, and potentially obvious mystery, Thorne’s writing and his use of historical social events creates a film that is able to push past the innate genre issues. The mystery is fine, it’s well constructed, and well implemented, it feels a little on the nose and obvious. It’s functional, but undercooked in ways, it has the occasional twist, but it mostly plays out as you’d expect. That being said, there is something really endearing about Thorne’s script. His writing of these characters and this world is just effortlessly joyous, even in its darkest moments, the light just shines. His use of fourth wall breaks and his charming characterisation breathes such delight into the film that they’re a pleasure to watch, even if the central mystery is lacking.

This is also bolstered by Thorne’s strength in thematically linking Enola’s plight as a young woman trying to do good and help people when everyone underestimates and looks down on her to the the Matchgirls’ Strike (the first woman led industrial strike against working conditions) and the way these women were treated in the factories leading to the strike. Thorne, along with director Harry Bradbeer (who also wrote the story with Thorne), create such a thematic richness in crafting this fictional mystery around the real-life social change in the 1800s that supports its feminist messaging and brings attention to an important moment in history.

While it’s easy for an actor to get pigeon holed when they play a character as iconic and popular as Eleven, Millie Bobby Brown once again shows that her capabilities as a lead go far beyond Hawkins. As with the film’s predecessor, Brown shows a movie star level of charm and charisma with Enola. She’s funny, wonderful, plays the awkwardness of a Holmes character perfectly, but with the heart provided to Enola with such openness. Brown is effortless with her performance, entirely winning and endearing.

Cavill is also a delight as Sherlock once more. He gets a lot more to do here than in the first film, which turns him from just playing an empathetic Sherlock and plays more into an emotionally detached detective (“don’t get emotional” he plainly says at crime scenes). It doesn’t undercut the work he does in the first film; he still has a warmth to his performance usually not seen in Sherlock performances, but he is on a case here, and it provides a different side to him, one that is a bit more familiar, yet uniquely Cavill’s take on the character.

The Enola Holmes movies are delightful. The sequel might be more of the same, but it’s just proof that that isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s fun, endearing and just a good time, a rather simple but effective film that is made with so much love and heart that you are easily won over by its charms. Bradbeer’s direction is simple and effective, with such a keen focus on the tone, making this yet another winning entry into what is now the Enola Holmes series.

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Another delightful mystery with Enola HolmesReview - Enola Holmes 2
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