The latest installment of the Enola Holmes mystery series, ENOLA HOLMES 2, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?
Back in 2020, when the original Enola Holmes was released on Netflix, few saw what this film truly meant for everyone involved.
The film’s titular star Millie Bobby Brown had finished 4 seasons as the centerpiece of a massively successful show in Stranger Things, but she had not yet proven she could lead a film.
The film’s director Harry Bradbeer had also been quite successful in television with Fleabag & Killing Eve but had not yet ventured into directing feature films. The Sherlock Holmes industrial complex had churned out 3 successful iterations of the character over the last decade (2 RDJ led Sherlock Holmes films, Cumberbatch in Sherlock, & Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary), so overexposure was a strong possibility.
And finally, Netflix itself had just started its first attempts at making franchise sequels to their original content with The Kissing Booth 2 and To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You in that year but didn’t have the track record to feel confident that this was a burgeoning new film series to match the 6 Nancy Springer novels. Toss in a copyright lawsuit about whether they could use a more emotionally vibrant Sherlock, and this film had potential doom around every corner.
However, in short order, the mystery of whether Enola Holmes would be successful was roundly solved. 76 million viewers watched the film in its first month. Millie Bobby Brown proved her doubters wrong about her film career and signed on to star and/or produce 5 more Netflix Original Films, including a sequel to Enola Holmes, which brings back director Harry Bradbeer. The franchise game is, as the Holmes family would say, afoot.
Unlike the first film that followed a little closer to the plot of the first Springer novel, The Case of the Missing Marquess, Enola Holmes 2 seems to have chosen a different path.
Outside of the search for a missing girl and the familiar name of Lady Cicely, the sequel strays away from the 2nd novel in the series and instead uses a bold blend of historical fiction (the film opens with the text: “Some of what follows is true. The important parts at least.”) that ties directly to the core feminist learnings of Enola’s childhood and the current social/political doings of Enola’s mother, Eudoria (still played remarkably well by Helena Bonham Carter).
Fresh off the triumph of solving her first case, Enola Holmes follows in the footsteps of her famous brother, Sherlock (returning ultra-jacked Henry Cavill), and opens her own agency – only to find that life as a female detective-for-hire isn’t as easy as it seems. Resigned to accept the cold realities of adulthood, she is about to close shop when a penniless matchstick girl offers Enola her first official job: to find her missing sister. But this case proves far more puzzling than expected, as Enola is thrown into a dangerous new world – from London’s sinister factories and colorful music halls to the highest echelons of society and 221B Baker Street. As the sparks of a deadly conspiracy ignite, Enola must call upon the help of friends – and Sherlock himself – to unravel her mystery.
While I very much enjoyed the first Enola Holmes film two years ago, this sequel proved to be an evolution to the “more origin story than mystery” approach that its predecessor felt it had to portray for the sake of the franchise’s potential.
Shedding the constraints of a young girl coming of age in late 19th century British society (boarding schools, corsets, first loves), Enola Holmes 2 seems to be far more concerned with its present case than its protagonist’s past. No Mycroft. No romantic entanglements to start. No present worries about her mother’s whereabouts. The film, as well as Enola herself, is free to get right to the heart of why we’re all here: solving a complex mystery alongside the best family ever to do it; which means more screen time for some of our favorite franchise carryovers, Henry Cavill as Sherlock and Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria. Their increased presence in the film makes the tone more heartfelt, dynamic, & adventurous compared to the original.
As a result of this new found focus, the sequel feels more athletic than its predecessor, with a faster pace and tighter edits. Like Enola’s mind, the camera seems to be always moving while only slowing down for choice moments of sentimentality and the occasional ass-kicking, two allowances I can surely get behind.
Casting seems to be one of the biggest strengths of the franchise, as the sequel only adds to the list of stars established in the first film. “The Sandman” standout David Thewlis joins on as the duplicitous Superintendent Grail alongside Sharon Duncan-Brewster (“Sex Education”) as Mira Troy & Hannah Dodd (Eternals, “Bridgerton”) as missing girl Sarah Chapman.
Overall, Enola Holmes 2 is a worthy addition to the Sherlock Holmes extended universe and the budding Enola Holmes franchise.
The cast grows deeper as the edits get sharper, and the mysteries grow stronger as Enola’s flashbacks & 4th wall-breaking start to recede. While the film may suffer from runtime bloat or scenes that don’t entirely work (I’m looking at you, Match Makers’ Ball), the improvements upon the first film cannot be denied and should prove to be a quality template for future installments.
Watch Enola Holmes 2 If You Like
Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films
Young Sherlock Holmes
MVP of Enola Holmes 2
Screenwriter Jack Thorn.
Without the crutch of one of the novel’s source materials and the loss of Sam Claflin’s Mycroft due to scheduling conflicts, Jack Thorn turned in a script with a case-centric mentality that propped up the core feminist themes that are woven into the fabric of the Holmes family dynamic.
The loss of Mycroft proved to be a blessing as Thorn used Enola’s emboldened spirit following the success of the Lord Tewkesbury case as the lynchpin to her progression as a detective and a woman more befitting her current guardian, Sherlock.
PLAY, PAUSE, OR STOP?
Fans of the original should not only be satisfied but encouraged by the potential of this franchise after watching this new film.