‘Enola Holmes 2’ provides an updated detective story

Written By Rachel Ross, Co-Features/A&E Editor

I watched the first “Enola Holmes” film when it came out on Netflix in early 2020. I remember enjoying it, but candidly, not much beyond that. I know there was sleuthing, as to be expected, and something with Helena Bonham Carter going missing, and a teenage Lord trying to run away, but how any of those things are connected, I don’t really recall. Despite the fuzzy details, I was still interested in giving “Enola Holmes 2” a watch,which was recently released on Netflix on October 27. 

The Enola films take place in the late 1800s, and follow the sister of world famous detective Sherlock Holmes, as she breaks into the mystery market herself. While the first film saw her solving a case by accident (that much I do remember), the sequel sees Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) opening her own agency, in order to begin solving cases professionally. Enola has much of the same natural wit and deduction ability as her older brother (Henry Cavill), but is often underestimated for her age and gender. Just as she is about to pack it in and declare failure on her new business, Enola is approached by a young girl asking for her help in finding her sister, who has recently gone missing. Enola eagerly takes on the case, but quickly finds it to be more than she bargained for. Meanwhile, Sherlock works on a case of his own, which seemingly has him stumped. Eventually, the siblings find that their cases may actually be linked, and that in order to solve them, they will need to trust each other’s abilities, and accept each other’s help. 

Overall, I enjoyed “Enola Holmes 2” about as much as the last one, maybe a little bit more. I’m not always the biggest fan of origin stories, which is one hundred percent a personal preference, it doesn’t have anything to do with how the first film was executed. I tend to prefer when things are already established; I don’t always like going back to the setup once we’ve moved beyond it in franchises or shows, which is probably the biggest factor in why I would be more inclined to watch this one again over the first one. 

I thought the mystery was fun and engaging; I found myself trying to solve it with her along the way. It was well layered, to the point that I never felt certain where they were going to take it or what they were going to do with it. The only real problem I had, to get nitpicky without getting too specific, is that there was one element with a certain someone disguising themself at a ball that seemed incredibly evident as to who they were, to the point that when Enola eventually figured it out. I was confused about the big deal they made out of the reveal. When you have a girl who notices shoe scuffs on the floor and false bottoms to jewelry cases, it seemed out of place for her to miss something that seemed so surface level to me. Maybe they should have considered a different color wig if they didn’t want it to be so obvious is all I’ll say. 

Other than that, I thought it was a charming and well executed classic mystery story. 

The only other story element I found issue with was a bit at the end; the final scene in the factory felt very on the nose as to what they were trying to do or what “girl power” feelings they were trying to inspire. However, I do appreciate them incorporating this homage to a real woman who fought for workers’ rights during this time. It just felt drawn out further than it needed to be for the sake of drama.

In terms of performances, I thought Millie Bobby Brown once again did an admirable job with this character; she brings a great energy and vibrancy to the story, while also carrying the more serious or sincere moments with much grace and confidence. She makes Enola a fun protagonist to follow, but also one worthy of respect and admiration. Even her asides to the camera, which is a concept I’m usually not the biggest fan of, she handles with bubbly humor and conviction that make them palpable. She’s created a character that I would call a suitable role model for young girls. She’s a great young actress, and I think she deserves all of the hype and success she’s been finding. 

As for supporting characters, the most prominent of which are Sherlock and Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) both do well in holding their own; they both gave performances that I would describe as above average. Partridge, for what his character was given in this film, succeeded in maintaining my interest. He showed that he was not one to underestimate in the scenes he was given a prominent role in, especially the bathroom dance lesson. As for Cavill, I’m not going to claim to be an expert on Sherlock Holmes or different portrayals of the character throughout the years, but I found him to carry the role well. He plays him more realistically than what I’ve seen of Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal, in that he’s more closed off and serious. Him and Millie Bobby Brown work off of each other well in their scenes together; they have a fun contrast between her bubbly personality and his reserved one. 

Another element that I find worth mentioning in this film are the costumes. I think the costuming department did a great job finding a middle ground between being true to the time period, while also incorporating more modern touches. The costumes often added really nicely done pops of color to the environments. My favorite was by far the ball scene, which featured a collection of unique, grandiose gowns and ensembles. Enola’s outfits especially were fantastic extensions of her character, often showing off her rebellious nature or unwillingness to completely conform to societal standards. 

Then there’s the editing, which I bring up not to praise, but rather to condemn; frequently throughout the film it is really really bad. There were these unnecessary jump cuts that didn’t match the pace of the rest of the film at all. There doesn’t need to be ten cuts because someone walked across the room. I feel like this is something a lot of films have been doing lately; one of the worst examples of late was Oscar nominee “Don’t Look Up,” funny enough, another Netflix film. I don’t know if this is just a Netflix thing or what, but it’s very distracting and often doesn’t match the style of the films it’s being utilized in. 

“Enola Holmes 2” is a good choice if you’re looking for something random to watch on a Saturday night. It is entertaining, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a must see. If you feel like watching it, I don’t think it’ll be a waste of your time, but if you don’t, I don’t think you’re missing an exceptional entry into the cultural zeitgeist either. Overall, it’s a fun watch, especially if you like mysteries, but one watch will probably suffice; I don’t know that I would take the time to return to it in the future.