Millie Bobby Brown returns to the role of Enola Holmes for Netflix’s latest film franchise based on the lesser-known character of the Holmes detective family. Still wanting to shed the shadow of her more accomplished elder sibling Sherlock (Henry Cavill), Enola sets up her own detective-for-hire agency, but with the surname she carries the burden. “Might your brother be free?” remarks a potential client, and with that Enola knows her future will likely forever be disparaged due to her distinguished brother. But just when all hope seems lost, one desperate soul seeks out Enola for a case that will put her crime work to the test.
A young girl named Bessie Chapman (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) is looking for her missing sister. She, along with her sister Sarah, work in a matchmaking factory (with this of course being set during the industrial era of Victorian London) where the working conditions are tough, but the livelihood of being a woman are even tougher. It doesn’t take long of being in the steps of Sarah that Enola realises she was onto something, which soon sparks a conspiracy that even has the interest of her brother Sherlock. The two will work together, along with the help of the returning Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) to unravel the case and hope to reunite the separated siblings.
The success of the first entry felt mainly as a result of it adapting its own identity. With a strong message of female empowerment (which is even more purposeful here), and the lack of screen reliance of Sherlock. It wanted to remodel the Holmes formula for a very different audience but still keep the fundamentals intact. Whilst the sequel does keep in theme with that, its drawback this time is that is does have to fall on Cavill to keep the cogs running.
Millie Bobby Brown gives another charming and perhaps more refined performance as Enola. She’s still breaking the fourth wall as she feeds you expositional story beats and catches us up with what’s been missed in the time past between each entry. She does it with a slight crook to her smile and a wink whenever she wants to draw your attention to something.
Harry Bradbeer returns to direct and keeps that action/adventure style running throughout, but with a bigger emphasis on the detective aspect. The Holmes siblings will navigate their way through some pragmatic problem solving and calculate the clues that have been left to uncover something that is more than just a missing girl’s case.
The issue I have with most of these puzzles is that they’re either too far-fetched that you can’t comprehend how they reached such conclusion or, specifically with its twists, you can see them coming from a mile off in such a way that if the phrase ‘no shit Sherlock’ hadn’t yet been coined, I can almost guarantee this movie would’ve inadvertently done so.
The sequel keeps mostly the same characters in play, but not even so much of a mention from the missing Mycroft (Sam Claflin), who was quite integral to the first, feels like a decision made to condense the screentime shared not only by the returning characters, but the handful of new ones it introduces. Some of which are heavily hinted towards a third movie. The best of these new characters though is Daivd Thewlis’ sleazy Superintendent Grail.
The real star of Enola Holmes 2 is subject to argument as with the significant screentime boost for Cavill’s Sherlock, the centre stage somewhat dances between the two, and the third act hints at the next instalment being far more in favour of a Sherlock led story. Which begs the question, where does Enola really fit into all of this? Whilst I don’t have an issue with either Cavill as Sherlock of Bobby Brown as Enola this entry seems muddled and much of the screen shared between the two, lessons the effects that the first movie had set out to create.
I may be in the minority here, but I felt that Bradbeer’s first instalment of the Enola story had more to say. It introduced a fresh new face in the adventure game, and whilst it exists in the same world as something that audiences are all too familiar with, it doesn’t use that as its primary selling point. This sequel however does exactly that. The story isn’t as engaging, and the fun is delivered only in medium moderation. This feels like a slight misstep but does gear up to something that can become much stronger in the long run.