With the massive success of Netflix’s Enola Holmes, it was no surprise that a sequel would come along soon. The new film picks up immediately following the first: Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) opens her own detective agency and quickly finds out that being a young woman with the same last name as London’s greatest detective isn’t easy. She is faced with sexism, ageism, doubts in her abilities, or people just bluntly asking her if Sherlock is available instead. Just as Enola is about to close shop for good, she is hired by a young, penniless girl to find her missing sister, who worked at a local match factory. Enola swiftly finds out that there’s more going on than meets the eye, including corruption, murder, and several red herrings; Sherlock himself is also struggling with a case that is somehow connected to his sister.
Based on the YA book series by Nancy Springer, the film retains the charm from the first movie with its playful action and quick-witted humour — especially in Enola’s casual breaking of the fourth wall, which makes the most of Brown’s impeccable comedic timing. Returning director Harry Bradbeer and screenwriter Jack Thorne craft a complex yet intriguing mystery that cleverly folds in a fictionalised telling of the Matchgirls Strike of 1888, a historic piece of industrial action in Victorian London. Though it is satisfying when the case is finally solved, the story slightly loses its momentum in an effort to tie up loose ends on the strike connection — while also setting up a potential third film.
A solid successor filled with satisfying twists and turns.
While the sequel doesn’t add much new to the growing franchise, the story itself is entertaining and lightheartedly fun. The pacing and plotting is, however, very similar to the first film — if it ain’t broke, why fix it? — and Brown and Cavill sustain their strong, believable chemistry, as siblings who bicker lovingly while trying to one-up their deductive observations. There are moments where Sherlock takes centre stage, but those rarely last long, with Enola interjecting into the narration to remind folks just whose movie this is.
Not everything works. Helena Bonham Carter returns as their absent, feminist mother, but her cameo feels underutilised; she just shows up to fix things before swiftly leaving. Lord Tewkesbury (played by Louis Partridge) also plays a large part as her love interest, and while the two are adorable together, they're not given enough time to cultivate this romance; it feels rather based on their moments in the last film rather than finding anything new.
Despite the few missteps, Enola Holmes 2 is still a solid successor filled with satisfying twists and turns, while exploring themes of feminism and class disparity, and Daniel Pemberton’s jaunty score, along with the creative animated intertitles, keeps things lively. Plus, Brown is just so charismatic: with her patented droll wit, she carries the film wonderfully. And that, as Enola might say, is a job well done.