Of course, Enola Holmes 2 begins with a tongue-in-cheek dictum, imploring audiences to approach the sequel with the perspective they need: “Some of what follows is true. At least the important parts.” This is the winning life of Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown), Sherlock Holmes’ little sister — at least according to author Nancy Springer’s young adult book series — and a skilled detective in her own right. So much joy in Enola’s perspective is, just that, her perspective, a mostly fresh (and often feminist) twist on the whodunit subgenre that has seen quite a renaissance in recent years. So why does this sequel feel like a pull back from what made Enola so special in the first place?
The film brings together most of the main cast and crew from Harry Bradbeer’s 2020 Netflix feature film Enola Holmes, and while this franchise starter was lively and fun, its sequel rehashes the charm of the original (with wishy-washy results), while expanding elements that did not require additional attention. (New additions to the cast, David Thewlis and Sharon Duncan-Brewster, are both underutilized, but one of them seems to contribute much more in later episodes.)
There are happy exceptions: the sequel spends more time with Enola’s unique mother (Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes deserves her revamped screen time), the steady development of affection between Enola and Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) is sweet, and Brown remains a wonderful cast for the role.
Despite Enola’s desire to escape the shadow of her famous big brother, her own film franchise does not emerge from Sherlock’s lurking presence; In fact, it’s not at all clear that it’s even the intention. Co-star Henry Cavill makes a dashing Sherlock and his scenes with Brown are adorable, but the film is too busy delving into his own life and profession (which already has plenty of adaptations, thanks).
Alex Bailey/Courtesy Netflix © 2022
From revealing the identity of Sherlock’s iconic enemy (who is inevitably involved in the case Enola is trying to crack) to dedicating the film’s only post-credits scene to a (very cute!) Sherlock subplot, “Enola Holmes 2” shies away from doing anything. in on his brave heroine. It all feels, dare we say it, pretty damn elementary.
Like the first film, Enola Holmes 2 depends on how quickly we get to Enola’s spirited heroine. She’s still vulnerable to both aces at decision-making and a barrage of fourth-wall-breaking jokes and jabs, but Enola (and Brown himself) have matured a bit. Since we last saw her, she’s opened her own detective shop dedicated to finding missing persons (she’s a “lost soul seeker, as always”), but business isn’t going well. Give in to cheap wannabe clients, her brother’s outsized reputation, and plain old sexism and ageism. (In a striking montage of recent failures, a potential lead is horrified to find Enola a girla common theme in their life and work.)
Just as Enola is about to wrap it up, a new client arrives: adorable match girl Bessie Chapman (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss), who is hoping Enola could help her find her missing sister Sarah. Before long, Enola is going undercover at the local match factory, which is full of hardworking young women who are too busy reeling from a long-running typhoid outbreak to invest much time in finding Sarah. But Enola is undeterred!
Alex Bailey/Courtesy Netflix © 2022
That sounds like enough stuff for an entire movie — even without knowing that Sarah Chapman was a real person who literally sparked major reforms in the matchmaking world. (She really is a perfect subject for an enola joint.) Then the film starts to chug more and more still more Material. Like its predecessor, Enola Holmes runs for over two hours, but while Bradbeer’s first feature film was required to provide the full backstory expected of a film clearly designed to jump-start a franchise, Enola Holmes 2 feels simply heavy, bloated and convoluted. Not at all like Enola.
Much of the joy of this franchise – one that’s aimed at the younger set but has plenty to offer viewers of all ages – is the energy Brown brings to the character. It’s the same kind of energy that Bradbeer excels at bringing to screen when he’s not distracted tying up the many loose ends in Jack Thorne’s script. Of course, Enola’s case will overlap with Sherlock’s case. Of course, Sarah’s disappearance is part of something much bigger. Of course, excellent character actors who take on seemingly small roles aren’t just there for fun. Something is afoot, and savvy observers know it and still expect to be charmed by it. Enola Holmes 2 all too often forgets how to do that. Here’s a hint: go back to basics for next time.
Enola Holmes 2 will stream on Netflix on Friday, November 4th.
https://www.indiewire.com/2022/10/enola-holmes-2-movie-review-sequel-millie-bobby-brown-1234773219/ Enola Holmes 2 movie review: Millie Bobby Brown sequel is lukewarm