After the 2020 hit 'Enola Holmes', it was obvious that London's teenage sleuth would return with more fourth wall-breaking adventures. Unsurprisingly, the charismatic and effervescent spirit of Millie Bobby Brown as the titular moppet with gifted intellect lies at the heart of the 'Enola Holmes 2'. Brown's effortless performance makes it a delightful watch.
'Enola Holmes 2' is that rare 'sequel bests the first' kind of movie. In the first moments we see a plucky Enola running away from two cops. Suddenly, she halts and looks at the camera to rewind the scene and tell the audience how she got into this mess.
A few years after the events of the first film, Enola is starting out on her own and setting up her own detective agency, only if Londoner would take her seriously. All her potential clients sneer at the fact that she's a woman and young. Enola realises that independent, professional women are treated more like suspects than like trusted investigators in Victorian England. Like the first film, 'Enola Holmes 2' does contain the right amount of corny romantic scenes.
While Sherlock (Henry Cavill) is investigating a high-flying financial corruption case, Enola, on the other hand, not being hired by anyone, is going to shut her agency down. Just as she's given up, a prospective client shows up.
Having found an advertisement for Enola's agency on the streets, the young girl wants Enola to find her sister Sarah (Hannah Dodd) who works at a matchstick factory – where workers are mysteriously dying of typhus – and has gone missing.
There's a historical and political backdrop to the film, too, as it takes place during a fictionalised version of the Matchgirls' strike of 1888. Class plays a notable part in this instalment, particularly for Enola, who finds herself stuck between two worlds: too posh for the working-class kids she's trying to help, and far too unrefined for the elites she needs to investigate.
Enola picks up the case of a missing working-class woman. Given the Victorian notions, it makes sense that her first case comes from a fellow young woman. Notice the feminist centerpiece of the story: a woman is employed by another woman to help find another woman. Eventually, the Matchgirls' strike provides a dose of oomph to the film's feminist message.
Director Harry Bradbeer and writer Jack Thorne make the balanced statement: feminism doesn't necessarily only despise men. As much as there are terrifying male villains in this movie, such as David Thewlis' Grail, there are also men who are allies, fighting beside women for their causes.
However, there's a lot more going on with the case than simply a missing girl. Sherlock, meanwhile, finds himself vexed with his own case, and it's not long before the two inevitably intersect.
It's actually a delight to see actors like Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter and David Thewlis' calibre, known for their serious roles, just having fun.
Brown conveys Enola's spirited demeanour with gusto, but also manages to flesh out her vulnerabilities, as Edith, a suffragist leader and jiu-jitsu master played by a steadying Susan Wokoma, proclaims Enola as "a force of nature."
The action scenes are well-choreographed. Even though we know Enola will end the film mostly unscathed, the movie never makes things easy for her. Grail, the villain figure, is reckless and a force to be reckoned with. He can even kill in order to get what he wants. Mostly known as Remus Lupin from Harry Potter, Thewlis as Grail as a shrewd villain brings a proper menace to the character.
Speaking of well-choreographed fight scenes, when Enola's mother and Edith band together to beat the heck out of male assailants, one can't help but cheer on this Young Adult (YA) feminist tale as a welcome addition to the Sherlock Holmes universe.
In addition to being entertaining mysteries revolving around a spirited adolescent detective and a stellar cast of supporting players, the Enola Holmes films serve as a lens through which to examine the Victorian London that is so often romanticised in other movies.
The movie offers a playful romp around 19th century London. The cast and crew of the original reprise their roles to dish up a second Victorian mystery that continues the airy charms of the first, which featured twisting alley chase sequences, cheeky asides to the camera, and girls outsmarting boys.
Consistently surprising, thematically rich, and aided by an energetic central performance, 'Enola Holmes 2' is the rare sequel that doesn't take the bigger-is-better route. Instead, it doubles down on what made the first movie such a breath of pandemic-era fresh air in the first place. The movie's timeliness is baked into the plot, which concerns a criminal conspiracy and a couple of whistleblowers out to expose it.
Enola gets into plenty of fights and makes a few daring escapes as well. While it's a story about a detective, 'Enola Holmes 2' isn't a detective movie. It is the kind of bombastic action flick that will likely appeal to fans.
Enola Holmes is originally a series of eight YA novels written by Nancy Springer. While it conveys an inspiring message for working women and basically provides some commentary on society's treatment of young women, it doesn't do it in a preachy way.
Women being picked up by women, fighting for women, and even being outfoxed by women—all of it makes it a compact feminist thriller anchored in a real-life working-class revolt. Enola Holmes is not like Sherlock Holmes' cerebral show; rather it is light, fun and purely entertaining.