Review by Cole Groth
Initially scheduled for a theatrical release by Warner Bros., Enola Holmes was purchased by Netflix in 2020 and became a massive success for the streamer, receiving rave reviews from critics and an astonishing 76 million views in the first month of release. In the sink-or-swim theatrical market and the disastrous management of Warner Bros., it’s safe to say that Netflix’s purchase of the film was a brilliant decision because now they’ve got a lucrative franchise for rising star Millie Bobby Brown. The sequel, Enola Holmes 2, continues the story of Sherlock Holmes’s sister in an epic fashion. It’s fun, epic, hilarious, and an all-around fantastic adventure worthy of the Holmes title.
Without skipping a beat, we’re presented with Enola in medias res running from the police. She’s gotten herself into trouble again, and we, indeed, won’t be seeing this for the last time. This time around, Enola has been recruited to help a group of orphaned girls with finding one of their sisters, who has gone missing under nefarious circumstances. While investigating the mystery, she must go undercover in a match-making factory run by a few rather generic rich male villains. Over the next 129 minutes, Enola takes us on a twisty adventure full of wild chases, well-choreographed fight sequences, and love. It’s a journey that’s as much fun to follow along with as it is easily accessible. It’s hard not to fall in love with this film.
The excitement of the first few minutes sets the tone for a refreshingly fast-paced yet grand mystery. Reprising her role as the titular character is a never-better Millie Bobby Brown. She maintains all the confidence of her character from the last film with a more emotional side than before. She’s funnier, smarter, and more exciting than before, just like the rest of the movie. Instead of simply playing Enola, she effortlessly becomes her. Little moments of concentration, short glances, or other mannerisms make Enola feel like a real-life person, making her more fun to follow than previously. Henry Cavill is back as Sherlock Holmes, and his much-expanded role gives him a much stronger sense of agency this time. Since the last film established Enola as the lead, he’s now more critical, and his relationship with Enola is brilliant. Brown and Cavill have great chemistry, and seeing the two banter back and forth is hilariously realistic.
While not quite as prominent as before, Louis Partridge’s Viscount Tewkesbury plays a significant role in this film. Like before, he’s an excellent romantic partner for Enola. Instead of being the driving factor in her escapades, they work together to solve the mystery, although it takes some time for them to restart their relationship (which had fallen off between the two films). David Thewlis is introduced as a delightfully twisted police chief, supported by a hilarious Lestrade (Adeel Akhtar). Helena Bonham Carter’s Eudoria Holmes is reduced to only a few short scenes, which makes her one of the only disappointing characters in the film.
The excellent blend of mystery, action, and comedy makes this film so much fun. At its core, this is a Holmes film, meaning every plot twist must be carefully crafted. Jack Thorne’s script ensures this. It’s exciting to follow along and try to guess what’s going to happen next; while I wasn’t blown away by most plot twists, they’re still very clever, and a few are incredibly surprising. The action is very well-choreographed, too. Each chase sequence is carefully planned out and fun to watch, although a few stray shots of bad green screen prove somewhat distracting.
Additionally, this is a hilarious film. Enola is the primary driver of the humor and almost all of her jokes land. Her and Tewkesbury’s relationship stands out as one of the funnier relationships, although Sherlock’s interactions with her are just as amusing. The character development is one of the most vital elements throughout. Since we’re given over two hours to explore every character, it’s essential that they all feel genuine. Most people are given moments to shine on their own, and they have plenty of charisma and enthusiasm to maintain the light and humorous tone of the film.
While on her journey, Sherlock finds himself trailing her as he pieces together a larger mystery. It’s fun to see what his findings set up for the franchise’s future, and it’s nice to see him given more prominent standing in this film. Although Enola proves to be an excellent detective, it’s nice to see that director Henry Bradbeer respects Sherlock’s legacy. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a modern take on a franchise that respects the qualities that made it so beloved by past generations. With some care, the Enola Holmes franchise could be a serious hit.
By all accounts, Enola Holmes 2 is a success. It’s a brilliantly exciting film that improves on the few weak points of the first film. There’s not too much reason for this to push over two hours, but there’s at least enough breadth in the story to feel continually satisfying. It has all the makings of a modern classic. Families will love this for the humor, film fans will love it for the adventure, and Sherlock Holmes fans will love it for the mystery. This is a film for everybody, and Netflix would be wise to greenlight a sequel as soon as they can.
Enola Holmes 2 premieres on Netflix starting November 4th.