Enola Holmes 2 (2022)
"Enola Holmes 2" stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Louis Partridge, Adeel Akhtar, Susie Wokoma, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, David Thewlis, and Helena Bonham Carter. Released on Netflix on November 4, 2022, the film has Enola Holmes traveling across London to search for a young girl's missing sister.
The film was directed by Harry Bradbeer, who directed episodes for television shows like "Fleabag" and "Killing Eve". It is a sequel to the 2020 film, "Enola Holmes", which was also directed by Bradbeer. It is also based on the young adult book series "The Enola Holmes Mysteries" by Nancy Springer. If there's a mystery that needs solving, there's one person to call. Well, obviously, the easy answer would be the great Sherlock Holmes, but what if he isn't available to tackle a case? Lucky for us, he's got a backup plan that isn't related to his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson. Netflix introduced its viewers to a fresh and light-hearted world of the famous detective from his young sister's perspective in 2020, which was just the thing to keep us sane during our darkest hour. I'm talking about "Enola Holmes", a mystery-comedy film centering on the title character solving a case while searching for her mother. The movie was a surprise hit for the streaming service, earning positive reviews and becoming one of the most-watched original films ever. So it's no mystery that a follow-up was inevitable in hopes of expanding Millie Bobby Brown's career outside of "Stranger Things". I really enjoyed the first movie, mainly for its creative direction and Brown's portrayal of the titular character. So there's no doubt I was curious to see if the sequel could copy its predecessor's success. Was this latest mystery worth solving with the up-and-coming detective? Let's find out.
The story once again centers on Enola Holmes (Brown), the sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes (Cavill). After solving her first case, Enola decides to follow in her brother's footsteps and open her own detective agency. Unfortunately for her, people aren't ready for a female detective-for-hire to solve their mysteries. As Enola's about to close shop, a penniless matchstick girl named Bessie Chapman (Serrana Su-Ling) arrives and offers Enola her first assignment: to find the girl's missing sister Sarah (Hannah Dodd). As Enola travels across London to search for Bessie's sister, she uncovers a deadly conspiracy that could spell doom for her hometown. Enola will have to rely on the help of Sherlock and her friends to solve her biggest case yet.
If you watch "Enola Holmes", you'll know what you're getting in "Enola Holmes 2", mainly its presentation. One of the elements that made its predecessor a joyful mystery is its style. Most adaptations of "Sherlock Holmes" offers a dreary old-fashioned background to match the puzzles the titular character is solving. "Enola Holmes" has a similar background, but it's surrounded by a stylish, energetic, and upbeat flair, with Enola occasionally breaking the fourth wall to speak to the viewers. This presentation made "Enola Holmes" a refreshing and entertaining perspective of the detective's world. Unsurprisingly, the sequel is no different, which will likely satisfy its predecessor's fans, including yours truly. While this mystery doesn't top what the first film delivered, "Enola Holmes 2" packs a punch in its entertainment values and gleeful charm.
The movie takes a curious direction for its narrative. Instead of adapting one of Nancy Springer's novels, "Enola Holmes 2" takes real-life inspiration from the matchgirls' strike in 1888, in which female workers take action against a match factory's poor conditions. So there's definitely some originality in the plot compared to the other film adaptations of "Sherlock Holmes". The story uses this inspiration to portray the reflection of corruption and mistreatment in a work environment, mainly for female employees. Additionally, it showcases the importance of teamwork, with Enola striving to solve her first case without help. Unfortunately, her reliance on working alone causes more harm to herself than good, resulting in her learning that it's okay to ask others for assistance. Some of its moments feel corny regarding its themes. However, since director Harry Bradbeer managed to maintain the film's balance of entertainment and inspiration, I was willing to forgive this minor issue.
Another element I enjoyed about the sequel was its charismatic cast. Millie Bobby Brown's portrayal of Enola in its predecessor proved that the young actress could carry a major project as the leading lady. In "Enola Holmes 2", the "Stranger Things" star has now proven to me that she's capable of leading a potential franchise like this. Once again, Brown delivered a satisfying performance that reflects the character's spunk and her fearless yet flawed personality. But, of course, she's not the only one who can carry the movie easily. Her co-star, Henry Cavill, offers enough moments in his role of Sherlock to catch up with Brown's energetic persona. David Thewlis and Louis Partridge were also decent as Grail and Tewkesbury, respectively. Additionally, Helena Bonham Carter continues to shine in her performance as Eudoria Holmes despite her brief screen time.
It's elementary to see that the film's identity is described by its presentation. However, it can also be described by its production design and costumes. Like the first film, the production design in "Enola Holmes 2" resembles the 1800s Victorian-era setting and the hardships that accompany it. It also has that Holmes-like vibe that many fans of the iconic detective would be familiar with, but with enough zest to get newcomers invested in the Holmes universe. I'm also impressed with the costume designs, which are just as authentic as the movie's background.
As for its flaws, the movie fumbled its enticing mystery for a bit due to one of its twists. There's this one reveal involving one of the supporting characters that I saw coming way before its third act. I won't spoil who it is if you haven't watched it, but I thought the buildup towards it could've been handled better. However, the one after that did take me by surprise. Another issue I had was its runtime. The movie's length was only seven minutes longer than its predecessor, which perfectly fits Hollywood's "longer follow-ups" rule. While it's far from boring, thanks to its pacing, the sequel did show signs of being a bit too bloated by the finale. The editing was also a bit choppy during a few scenes, especially the action sequences. Don't get me wrong. The fight scenes were as entertaining as the ones in the first film. I just wish they take it easy with the quick cuts.
Overall, "Enola Holmes 2" solves the mystery of how to make a sequel as delightful and appealing as its predecessor. It does feel a bit overlong, and some of the twists weren't as clever as others. However, they're quickly overshadowed by its irresistible charisma and Bradbeer's innovative style. It's another sequel that took what made the original a hit and applied them to its plot without being anything different, which is obviously for the better. From its wonderful cast to its fun action and suitable production design, this Netflix sequel is another case worth solving.
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