Directed by: Harry Bradbeer
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Anna Harrison
Every once in a while, Netflix still makes a decent movie—“Enola Holmes” was one of those, and “Enola Holmes 2” is even better, zipping along through its two-plus hour runtime with plenty of fun and action along the way. No, it’s not earth-shattering, but it’s more than entertaining enough for both tweens and adults, held aloft by charming performances from Millie Bobby Brown as the titular character and Henry Cavill as her older, more famous brother. (Sam Claflin’s Mycroft gets naught but a mention.)
After the events of the first movie, Enola has been attempting to strike out on her own by building her own detective agency, but the results have not been what she hoped for: despite solving the mystery that drove the first installment, Enola has struggled to overcome prejudice related to her age and gender, as well as the lengthy shadow that her brother Sherlock casts over her. She is just about to pack it up and close shop when a young girl named Bessie (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) approaches her, looking for her missing sister, Sarah; despite no pay, Enola jumps at the chance to prove herself once again, and distract herself from Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), whom she definitely doesn’t think about, despite knowing the exact path he takes to the House of Lords every morning.
What Enola uncovers is—of course—more complicated than it appears at first blush, and gets her entangled with the corrupt Lieutenant Grail (a deliciously leery David Thewlis) as she threatens to expose the horrible conditions of the match factor where Bessie and Sarah work. Inspired by the Bryant and Mays matchgirls strike, Enola’s forays into class consciousness are simplified for its younger audience, but Michael Carlin’s production design and Consolata Boyle’s costume work go a long way in conveying the terrible conditions under which these girls lived and worked. Even if the strike is whittled down to its core components and tweaked a little bit to get Enola involved, it’s surprisingly effective for such a breezy movie, and smoothly grows the feminist throughline from the original.
Then again, most things about “Enola Holmes 2” are surprisingly effective. Its fourth-wall breaks are less frequent and more effective than they were previously, though the editing and cartoon interludes remain as clever as they were before. Several moments even had me laughing out loud, and any chance for Helena Bonham Carter to be eccentric is a chance that cannot be passed up. The romance between Enola and Tewkesbury is buoyed by strong chemistry between Partridge and Brown (there’s a dance scene between them that would have sent me into a tizzy when I was a bit younger, and still did a bit even at the ripe old age of 24); Sherlock gets more attention, but it never detracts from Enola, who remains the star of the show, and a surprise appearance by Himesh Patel at the end of the movie promises a sequel that I am actually rather looking forward to. Bring on the “Enola Holmes” cinematic universe, I say.
“Enola Holmes 2” Trailer