Enola Holmes 2 is one of the few sequels that doesn’t follow the bigger-is-better trend. It is consistently surprising, has a strong conceptual foundation, and benefits from a dynamic lead performance that helps lift some of the slower passages. Instead, it builds on what made the first film such a breath of fresh air during the pandemic in the first place. When the first movie debuted, Netflix undoubtedly already knew it had a smash on its hands, so the sequel was put on high priority right away. The Red Notice and Gray Man movies will certainly still be made, but they now seem more like a disease that comes with aging than a fun Sunday plan that one looks forward to all week.
Enola Holmes 2, in contrast to other Fleabag clones, does not get its modern edge from punk rock music or haphazard Gen Z language. Instead, the plot of the film, which centers on a criminal conspiracy and a pair of whistleblowers determined to make it public, incorporates its timeliness. But this clever sequel’s single-minded purity of thought truly stands out. It shares many characteristics with its tenacious lead character.
As the titular adolescent detective who finds herself involved in a murder mystery after a string of career setbacks, Millie Bobby Brown is as gorgeous as ever. She is annoyed to learn that she is the main suspect rather than some mustache-waving Earl. Naturally, the plot expands as the movie progresses, but at its core, this is the tale of a young girl who, plagued by anxiety over being disposable, looks into the disappearance of another disposable young girl.
Enola Holmes 2 embraces its primary themes with the fervor of Eudora Holmes on the verge of saying farewell to her only daughter, starting with the film’s frenetic opening sequences that essentially serve as a much-needed “previously-on” summary and continuing through its upbeat third act. Because a poorer picture would commit the fatal error of thinking that its audience isn’t bright enough to keep up, a lesser film would have had some character periodically explain its mission statement to the audience. However, Enola Holmes uses character development rather than plot devices to convey its themes of tyranny and achieving independence from it.
Yes, there is a sequence where a group of empowered young ladies stages a mass walkout, but there is also a late reveal that serves as the best act of deception possible in what is essentially a children’s movie. I won’t give it away here, but it involves the introduction of a well-known figure from Sherlock Holmes mythology. In the hands of another writer, like Jack Thorne, it would have come off as cheesy pandering, but it fits with the quiet rage that permeates the movie. Keep an eye out for a mid-credits scene that caters to fans, but does so in a way that further develops the characters.
Speaking of Sherlock Holmes continues to be a supporting character as he was in the previous movie, even though both his bond with his younger sister and his unique personality are meaningfully explored. This version of Sherlock Holmes is not the type who would get excited by the arrival of a new villain but rather treats his responsibility to bring them to justice almost as a burden. Cavill’s portrayal of Holmes has a stoic, lone-wolf air, which the film recognizes and tries to remedy. You cannot accuse either of these movies of being cynical.
Brown and Cavill have dallied in franchises for most of their professional lives. Although this isn’t ideal, it’s the sad truth of stardom in our times. Unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio, of course. However, it’s encouraging to see that there is at least one series among the huge dystopia of the DCEU and the MonsterVerse, The Witcher, and Stranger Things that don’t smell whatever the Russo brothers think of as filmmaking. Since it is obvious where it is all going.