Enola Holmes is a very fun film featuring an incredibly charming Millie Bobby Brown as Sherlock Holmes’s spirited teenaged sister, Enola, with an unexpected assist from Henry Cavill’s surprising, dashing turn as Sherlock.
The Holmeses are back for a new adventure in Enola Holmes 2, this time “inspired by” Nancy Springer’s YA mystery book series. Jack Thorne once again writes the script, with Harry Bradbeer directing, and Brown and Cavill are joined again by Helena Bonham Carter as their erstwhile mother, Eudoria, and Adeel Akhtar as a bumbling take on Lestrade. The sleekly named Enola Holmes 2 maintains the charm and adventurous spirit of the first film, with an added pro-worker stance as the mystery draws from the real-life matchgirls’ strike of 1888, which kicked off the “New Unionism” movement of the late Gilded Age in England.
Following the events of the first film, Enola is on her own in London, nominally Sherlock’s ward but he is disinterested in caring for her, and attempting to set up her own detective agency. She fails, as potential clients either dismiss her due to her age and/or her gender or see her as merely a way to get to her famous detective brother. Frustrated, Enola is packing up when a Dickensian poppet appears with a case—her sister is missing, and can Enola please find her? The poppet, Bessie (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss), works at a match factory with her adoptive sister, Sarah (Hannah Dodd). The factory has been plagued by typhus for two years, but still Enola goes undercover to try and get information on Sarah’s whereabouts, but instead stumbles into a web of theft and cover-ups that goes all the way to the top!
Enola Holmes 2 comes with the added bonus of more screentime for Cavill’s Sherlock. Brown and Cavill have the best chemistry of anyone in the film, they bicker with effective vim and vigor to sell their rather distant sibling bond, but each infuses their character with just enough care to suggest a tacitly mutual longing to be closer. Sherlock, especially, prides himself on his independence, but it’s clear to Enola he doesn’t do his best work alone, and she encourages him to acquire a flatmate (HINT HINT). Enola, meanwhile, thrives on her connections. She is more comfortable moving through the slums of London than its glittering ballrooms, but she still has Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) to help her out in a pinch—though he, more than anyone, feels shoved into the plot to satisfy the formulaic romantic check box—and she makes friends easily almost everywhere she goes. Enola and Sherlock approach their cases from different angles yet end up with the same conclusions, and it’s fun watching the siblings test each other.
While Dr. Watson is barely seen (Himesh Patel shows up in a post-credit scene), Enola Holmes 2 does introduce Sherlock’s great archenemy, Moriarty. It’s a testament to the film’s energetically paced mystery that even though Moriarty’s presence is introduced early, the third-act reveal is still a surprise, and that Moriarty feels as much a challenge to Enola as to Sherlock. These films genuinely feel like they are not chasing the BBC Sherlock of the 2010s and they’re better for it, finding their own tone and space to interpret these characters.
In its second outing, the Enola Holmes franchise maintains the fizz and fun of the first film, while offering a satisfying mystery. There’s one too many characters running around (sorry, Tewkesbury), but it’s a relatively minor quibble with an overall enjoyable family adventure film. The Enola Holmes films are proving to be a great way to indoctrinate the youths in your life into fun little murder mysteries. As long as Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill want to play the Holmes siblings, let them, I say.
Enola Holmes 2 is now streaming on Netflix.