The game has found its feet again in ‘Enola Holmes 2’

Millie Bobby Brown, who stars in "Enola Holmes 2" (2022), is pictured. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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Two years after Netflix released “Enola Holmes” (2020), an adaptation of Nancy Springer’s “The Enola Holmes Mysteries” series, Millie Bobby Brown returns as Enola, with Louis Partridge as Lord Tewkesbury and Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes in “Enola Holmes 2” (2022). The sequel dives further into Victorian London as Enola tries to build her own business as a private detective while searching for a missing match girl. In a similar vein as the start of the first movie, the sequel starts with a chase where Enola runs through London and narrowly dodges carriages and pedestrians along the way. The series keeps its fourth wall breaks as Enola turns to the audience to backtrack to before she was running from cops and back to where the first movie left off, before she was running from cops. While the sequel includes a recap of the first movie, it is best to watch the first movie before starting the sequel, as it is very entertaining and fun. Enola continues to ignore societal expectations for young ladies as she lives independently while operating her own detective agency and infiltrating corrupt businesses.

While Enola struggles to find a case, her brother, the famous Sherlock Holmes, is overwhelmed by his cases, and Enola finds herself stuck in Sherlock’s large shadow. Sherlock plays a larger role in the plot of the sequel than in the first movie, and Brown and Cavill’s on-screen relationship as Enola and Sherlock, respectively, still rings true to anyone with a sibling. Sam Claflin, who played Mycroft in the first movie, did not appear in the sequel. Helena Bonham Carter, though, did return as Eudoria Holmes, Enola’s mother, and David Thewlis, another Harry Potter alum, joined the cast as inspector Grail. The cast also features some actors whose names are sure to become more familiar after their stellar performances, such as Susan Wokoma (who was also in the first movie), Serrana Su-Ling Bliss, and Hannah Dodd.

Disguises, intrigue, London societal rules, burning questions (pun intended, watch the movie to understand it), fantastic costumes, gripping fight scenes and young love are interwoven with a well-crafted plot to set up Enola’s second adventure. While she had to run away from her family in the first, here she often runs into them at opportune moments, like when a drunk Sherlock is thrown from a pub. The script is well written with quick, loaded dialogue that keeps the story moving from one event to another, never allowing the viewer to grow bored. Even the most avid BBC “Sherlock” (2010–17) fans won’t be disappointed by this interpretation, and Enola remains optimistic and progressive, a nice change from the Holmes we are used to seeing on page and screen.

The movie’s score was created by Daniel Pemberton, who also composed the first movie’s music. It shifts from lighthearted and whimsical to suspenseful and dark seamlessly. The music is essential to build the tone of fight scenes, investigative work and of course, the ballroom scene and dance sequences.

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While the first movie had commentary on voting rights with the historical parliament vote on votes for all men, the second focuses on worker’s rights: specifically match girls who worked with toxic phosphorus. Lyon’s Match Factory may be fictitious, but the story surrounding it and Sarah Chapman — the missing girl Enola spends the movie searching foris based on true events. Corruption and greed were widespread post-Industrial Revolution, and women in factory roles were often exploited. They faced low wages and hazardous working conditions in many different industries long after the matchgirls’ strike of 1888, such as the Radium Girls in the early 20th century.

Enola follows one rule as a detective: “Pull on every loose thread you find.” She follows Sarah’s coworkers, clashes with law enforcement, crashes into her brother’s apartment and goes to a fancy ball not knowing how to dance. Enola doesn’t let that stop her, learning as she goes, with the help of friends like Tewkesbury and Sarah’s sister, Bessie. The magnificent costumes by Consolata Boyle are colorful, and they fit well in the time period while also allowing Brown to do stunts such as climbing a drainpipe and fighting jiu jitsu. Fans of historical costumes will especially love the scenes during a ball where Enola ventures undercover to find out more about Sarah’s disappearance.

If you can’t stand the sight of blood, be prepared to fast forward through a one-minute scene that occurs a little more than a half hour into the runtime. Otherwise, the violence isn’t overtly graphic.

One distinct difference between the first and second movies is the inclusion of investigative techniques which were modern and novel for the time period, such as fingerprints and rigor mortis analysis. Another large difference is the focus on a case that Sherlock is investigating; the first movie focused notably on Enola herself.

The set design is just as meticulous as any Sherlock Holmes production, especially that of 221B Baker Street, which is cluttered and in a state of disarray. Chemistry sets are piled onto books and research notes next to pipes and a violin. Another key design choice was made when decorating Tewkesbury’s flat with houseplants on every available surface.

Some college students may find the Enola Holmes movies too elementary (again, pun intended) to bother watching. However, sometimes a fun, more lighthearted movie with witty dialogue is the perfect way to spend the evening. The writing is far from juvenile. Just when you start to figure things out, the plot twists down a previously hidden side road that is only accessible by foot after climbing over a ravine. Even people who are usually able to guess the endings to any book, movie or show will find themselves challenged by the fast-paced story of both of the Enola Holmes movies on Netflix.

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Summary

This sequel is just as entertaining as the original and will keep you guessing as the mysteries unravel.

5 stars
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