Written by: Hannah Tran | November 4th, 2022
Enola Holmes 2 (Harry Bradbeer, 2022) 3 out of 4 stars.
The game is not only afoot in Netflix’s follow-up to the adventures of our favorite smart-but-scrappy teen detective, Enola Holmes, it is at a full-on sprint. With a heightened sense of scale and an emphasis on its action-adventure elements, Enola Holmes 2 is a solid continuation of a wildly likable story. As the titular character once again finds herself caught in the middle of a mystery, this time involving a missing girl and a seemingly corrupt matchstick factory in industrial England, the charm of the case and characters shines just as brightly as it did in its predecessor.
What also notably returns from the first installment is the stylish flair that director Harry Bradbeer (Enola Holmes) uses to give us a peek into Enola’s mind. Between the colorful graphic design and the intricate sets and costumes, Enola Holmes 2 transports us into its vision of a semi-whimsical and silly history while also realistically depicting the ugly truths of what life was like for factory workers. One element that is surprisingly missing from this is the relevant social commentary seen in the first one. Despite being about extremely important issues regarding child labor and working conditions, the sequel feels more confined by its period setting. Even though labor unions are very much a part our society, the focus on it fell a little flat in its oversimplicity and lack of original insight.
One element that works exceptionally is the increased screen time with Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill, Netflix’s The Witcher series). The journey this time around finds Enola butting heads with her famous older brother more than a few times. As it follows her into his world, his flat, his mind, it scratches an itch left by the first movie to see more of the perfectly cast character in action. And despite his extended presence, the heart of the film is fully in Enola’s control. With the promise for future installments, one can only hope that it continues to tread this line carefully.
The brave, clever, empathetic, and resourceful character that is Enola Holmes is simply too magnetic to take any time away from. Once again played enthusiastically by Millie Bobby Brown (Netflix’s Stranger Things series), Enola is simultaneously relatable and inspirational. And yet, as the film pushes her into new territory, such as with a number of standout undercover scenes, she’s able to show off her comedic talents as well. Although the complex subplots can make this film feel somewhat overstuffed with ideas and characters, it excels at developing those already at its center.
Enola’s romance with Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge, The Lost Girls), especially, is written and performed with a believable sense of affection and care. Once again, however, it’s difficult not to want to see more of Helena Bonham-Carter (Ocean’s 8), who portrays the Holmes’ radicalized matriarch. The thrill-packed sequences that do involve her, however, make up some of the most memorable scenes in the film. I hope this franchise finds the success necessary to better explore these relationships with future installments. Built on a mountain of creativity, detailed work, and stellar performances, Enola Holmes 2 is a worthy sequel with a fascinating case to solve and an empowering pivot about human rights, love, and friendship.