Enola Holmes 2 Review: Brown & Cavill Sequel Is Charming, Low-Stakes Fun

Two years after Netflix released the first film, Enola Holmes 2 returns viewers to the world originally created by young adult novelist Nancy Springer, where the famous detective Sherlock Holmes has a younger sister who also happens to be a detective. Enola Holmes, released in 2020 and introduced viewers to the titular character, a headstrong and earnest young woman determined to make her own way in the world. The character returns in the sequel for a more tightly plotted story that also weaves in quite a deal more of the Sherlock Holmes mythos. Enola Holmes 2 continues the tradition of cozy mystery from its predecessor, with delightful performances from Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill.

Following the events of the first movie, Enola Holmes (Brown) sets up her own detective agency but struggles to get clients, with most people wanting her older brother Sherlock (Cavill) to take their cases instead. That is, until a young girl asks for help finding her missing older sister Sarah Chapman (Hannah Dodd). Enola throws herself into tracking down Sarah with gusto and soon discovers it overlaps with a case of stolen government money that’s thwarting her older brother. Both Holmes siblings are reluctant to accept help, but when the case takes a deadly turn, teaming up becomes a necessity. In addition to teaming up with Sherlock, Enola will have to learn to ask for help from all her allies, including the Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) and her still-wayward mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter). Meanwhile, Sherlock will need to seek out the assistance of Eudoria’s cohort Edith (Susan Wokoma). Only together, and with some help, will Enola and Sherlock be able to solve both their cases.

Where the first Enola Holmes movie was a little too scattershot, with too many disparate story threads to feel like a cohesive story, Jack Thorne’s script for Enola Holmes 2 is much more elegant in how it ties all the aspects of the film together. Thorne, who penned the script for the first movie as well, keeps everything that worked well from Enola Holmes, including the character’s charming tone and fourth wall-breaking tendencies, while managing to weave a more well-plotted mystery. The mystery of Sarah Chapman is just as complex as a viewer might expect after the first film, and is expansive enough for Sherlock to have his own side in it. Thorne even pulls in real historical events, loosely basing the character of Sarah on the woman of the same name involved in the matchgirls’ strike of 1888. Enola Holmes 2 got rid of what didn’t work from the first film, giving viewers more of what they liked.

Enola Holmes 2 includes more of Cavill’s Sherlock, who is more involved in the mystery of Sarah Chapman and, as a result, Enola’s life. Though Brown can lead the movie easily on her own — and she’s just as charming as in the first film — it’s a delight to see her and Cavill bring to life the sibling dynamic between Enola and Sherlock. Thorne’s script positions them as two sides of the same coin and the actors play those different, but similar, aspects of their characters very well. Their energy onscreen is ridiculously entertaining, especially in a scene where Enola helps Sherlock home after a night out. Cavill demonstrates some fun comedy skills here, while Brown continues to flex her leading star chops. The other returning stars, Partridge, Carter and Wokoma, are enjoyable as their characters, though they’re somewhat outshined by the new players, including David Thewlis as the menacing police inspector Grail and Sharon Duncan-Brewster’s deliciously complex new character. Altogether, Brown leads Enola Homes 2 well on her own, but the movie shines the most when she’s given an entertaining partner to work with.

Perhaps one of Enola Holmes 2’s only weaknesses is its inability to reconcile its low-stakes story with its desire to be a high-stakes mystery action thriller. Thorne’s script and the direction of Harry Bradbeer, who also returns from the first film, turn a story about a missing girl and stolen government money into a movie that includes a prison break and multiple explosions. There is a certain amount of action inherent to a story where a young woman knowing jujitsu is key to her character, but Enola Holmes 2 sometimes takes it a bit too far. There’s nothing wrong with a low-stakes mystery if it’s well-plotted enough to be engaging, but at certain points it feels as though Thorne and Bradbeer are throwing in extra flash because they’re not confident enough in the story. It’s not so out of left field as to be detrimental to the film, but perhaps it would be best if the filmmakers accepted Enola Holmes 2 is a cozy murder mystery and the movie is entertaining because of that, not in spite of it.

Altogether, Enola Holmes 2 delivers a sequel that will appeal to fans of the first film, while also offering an easy entry point for anyone who may not have caught Netflix’s 2020 movie. Those who enjoyed Cavill’s Sherlock in Enola Holmes will be especially happy to see him more involved in the story of the sequel, but this remains Brown’s franchise. She’s become a powerhouse and continues to capitalize on her skill and charm to keep this film series engaging, and viewers will be won over by the better constructed mystery and delightful dynamic between the two Holmes siblings.

Enola Holmes 2 starts streaming on Netflix Friday, November 4. The film is 129 minutes long and rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images.