Enola Holmes 2 review: A game cast carries the superb sequel

Millie Bobby Brown and Helena Bonham Carter hide under the boards in a scene from Enola Holmes 2.

“The stars of the film deliver strong performances that keep the story moving and lead you on Enola’s adventure.”

Pros

  • Millie Bobby Brown is endlessly entertaining

  • Henry Cavill’s Sherlock Holmes feels fresh and engaging

  • The right balance of action, humor, and mystery

Cons

  • The central mystery is a bit confusing

The secret to making a good sequel is a mystery that has baffled more than a few filmmakers and studios over the years. Hollywood history is littered with follow-up films that don’t match the success of their predecessors, but every now and then, a film hits all the right signs.

And sometimes – as in the case of Enola Holmes 2 — they even look at it, well… elementary.

Millie Bobby Brown sits in a carriage in a scene from Enola Holmes 2.

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Directed by Harry Bradbeer from a script by Jack Thorne, Enola Holmes 2 brought back Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) as the titular, aspiring detective who often finds himself in the shadow of his famous brother, Sherlock, is again played by Man of Steel star Henry Cavill. The film finds Enola struggling to get his new detective agency off the ground while immersed in a missing person case with ties to the highest levels of government and industry.

The first one Enola Holmes did a wonderful job of introducing Brown as the title character, whose smart, understanding nature is matched only by his social awkwardness and knack for dealing with trouble. Brown makes the role his own, handling the action and humor with ease, and shows great chemistry not only with Cavill but also with the film’s audience, thanks to Enola’s involvement in breaking the fourth wall and bringing to the audience of his story.

All that goes on – and continues to grow – on Enola Holmes 2, which feels like a natural extension of the first film, from the story itself to Enola’s relationship with the surrounding characters and the audience. There’s a comfort level in the franchise right now that makes Enola feel like an old friend you’re checking in on, and he’s got a story to tell you.

Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, and Louis Partridge stare at a piece of paper in a scene from Enola Holmes 2.
Enola Holmes 2. Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes, Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes, Louis Partridge as Tewkesbury. The Cr. Alex Bailey/Netflix © 2022

Sherlock and Enola

The top themes of the 2020’s Enola Holmes centered on his desire to assert his freedom, and Enola Holmes 2 has Brown’s character now struggling to ask for and receive help. It’s a thematic script-flip for the character, but it’s handled smartly and manages to avoid diminishing Enola’s accomplishments as an independent woman in a frustratingly patriarchal world.

That’s a delicate line to walk, but Brown and the film’s creative team find the narrative balance necessary to pull it off.

Their efforts are supported by a nuanced performance from Cavill, whose version of Sherlock gets more screen time and character development this season, but never overshadows Brown and his portrayal of Enola. Cavill’s Sherlock is as intellectually distant and socially awkward as Enola, but he is smart enough to realize that by being a man, the same qualities that earned him admiration and respect work against his brother.

Cavill’s Sherlock is not an overtly emotional character, instead, his sentiments and loyalties are explored through his interactions with Enola. It’s a clever way to instill warmth and heart in a character known for being a little cold, and it’s handled with a suitably gentle touch by Cavill and the film’s creative team.

Henry Cavill sat down as Sherlock Holmes in a scene from Enola Holmes 2.

The game continues

Given the film’s Holmes-ian foundation – as filtered by author Nancy Springer Enola Holmes novels, adapted for movies — it’s a little surprising that the weakest element of Enola Holmes 2 is its central mystery.

Enola’s encounter leads him into a vast conspiracy involving a missing woman, a match factory, and the British government, but the connection between all the parties involved remains somewhat unclear. even after the third act’s big, revealing scene. Even when Enola pulls back the curtain and reveals the villains, the narrative never delivers the kind of “A-ha!” moment we expect from the stories set in and around the world of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a little disappointing, sure, but the film’s good performances — which also include a villainous inspector played by David Thewlis and recurring characters played by Susie Wokoma and Helena Bonham Carter — make up for it. Enola Holmes 2 each time the narrative becomes enmeshed in its own mystery.

Entertaining, funny, and impressively clever, Enola Holmes 2 is the amazing sequel that not only excels at its predecessor but expands the world of the franchise in meaningful ways. The end of the film sets the stage for more stories to come for Enola – and Sherlock, for that matter – and gives its fans plenty of reasons to look forward to joining them.

Directed by Harry Bradbeer, Enola Holmes 2 premieres November 4 on Netflix.

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