Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill return for another go as the sibling Holmes. This time around, things are a little more dangerous and dicey, but like its predecessor, Enola Holmes 2 is a joy to watch. Here’s our review.
A few days ago, I was writing a story on the best Starbucks Christmas drinks and found myself in the utterly difficult position of having to try out all of the options. One of them was the Red Velvet Oatmilk Latte, so naturally, I expected to taste red velvet. I didn’t. I was disappointed. I was heartbroken. I felt betrayed. The Red Velvet Oatmilk Latte then took its place dead last.
No, you haven’t misclicked, this is a review for Netflix’s Enola Holmes 2. That whole spiel was just my roundabout way of saying that expectations are important. If a drink has “red velvet” in the name, we’d all expect red velvet. Meanwhile, Enola Holmes has never touted itself as a groundbreaking film nor has it ever said it was trying to compete with other iterations of Sherlock Holmes. Instead, it’s meant to be a fun family watch that’s cheeky and a tad bit corny but empowering.
If you watch it with that in mind, then you’re in for a good time.
Enola Holmes 2: family fun with an empowering message for young women and the return of the buffest Sherlock Holmes ever
Set a few years after the events of the first film, Enola Holmes, played by the talented Millie Bobby Brown, has decided to strike out on her own and establish her own detective agency. Her young optimism is quickly snuffed out when she realises just how horrible the reality of adult life is and how sexist society can be. It is the Victorian era, after all, though one can argue not much has changed—a story for another day. After being mistaken for the secretary and asked repeatedly if her more famous brother can help instead, she decides to close shop, but not before a young girl finally asks her to take on a case: the mysterious disappearance of the girl’s sister.
True to form, the Enola Holmes sequel has a lot of heart and wit and doesn’t take itself too seriously, unlike another Netflix young adult novel adaptation. And yes, Enola Holmes is originally a series of eight YA novels written by Nancy Springer. The film knows it’s a YA adaptation, so it’s light and fun. While it does have an inspiring message for young girls and basically provides some commentary on society’s treatment of young women, it doesn’t do it in a preachy way. I fully expect men with the smallest of egos to label it “woke” though—again, a story for another day.
Unsurprisingly, the heart of the film’s wit and joy is Millie Bobby Brown, who in real life is also as charming, fun, and witty as her character. In other words, she plays the role effortlessly and imbues the whole film with delight. Honestly, it’s just nice to see the girl having fun and not being chased down by an inter-dimensional monster with people all around her either dying or going missing.
Some of the criticisms levied against the show is Henry Cavill’s Sherlock Holmes, who is arguably the nicest and most definitely buffest of all the Sherlocks out there. I understand how this Sherlock can be different though, namely because he has a little sister, and the elder Holmes does have a soft spot for her. Considering that, it would be uncharacteristic for this Sherlock to be cold and detached. Others may argue then that this isn’t a book-accurate Sherlock, and they’d be right. But then again, Doyle’s Sherlock didn’t have a sister named Enola.
Millie and Henry’s scenes together—and they do share a significant amount of screen time here than they did in the previous movie—are perhaps the best bits of the film because of how well they play off each other. Again, it’s just another instance of art imitating life because the two off-camera have a very sibling-like relationship that they’ve discussed in numerous interviews.
The cast consists of names like Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter who plays the Holmeses’ mother, and David Thewlis who plays a villainous inspector, but this isn’t some Victorian-era drama. They’ve all come to play, and it’s actually a delight to see actors of this calibre known for their serious roles just having fun. That doesn’t mean they called in their performances, again unlike the same YA adaptation-that-must-not-be-named, but they know what movie they’re in and they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Like the first film, Enola Holmes 2 does have an inspiring message for young women, and like before, it conveys it in just the right amount of cheesy without being overbearing. Director Harry Bradbeer and writer Jack Thorne’s principle seems to be about balance, and so far, they’ve accomplished that for the past two films. I say “so far” because the end seems to set up a possible third film (watch the mid-credit scene that introduces a surprising character), though my fear is that it might draw away from the fact that these are Enola Holmes’ stories and not her brother’s.
Enola Holmes 2 is not a masterpiece nor is it trying to be. It’s meant to be fun and enjoyable and not a period drama. It’s also about Enola and not Sherlock. And no, this is Arthur Conan Doyle’s world either. If you go into this movie thinking otherwise, you’ll definitely be disappointed. But if you just want a delightful film to see on a weekend, maybe for a family movie night or a casual hang out, then this is something you could enjoy.
Now then, let me go rewatch The Crown to balance out the joy with some drama.
Stream Enola Holmes 2 on Netflix