Capsule Review: Enola Holmes 2 (2022)

Enola Holmes is back, with Millie Bobby Brown reprising her titular role in the sequel. She was one of the reasons that made the otherwise spotty first movie fairly watchable, thanks to her spunky charm and witty breaking-the-fourth-wall moments.

The good news is, she retains the same charming personality in Enola Holmes 2 and she’s fun to watch. Except for this time, her appearance alone isn’t enough to save this bloated sequel. Blame it on returning screenwriter Jack Thorne’s screenplay that he co-wrote the story alongside Harry Bradbeer, the same director who helmed the first movie. While the 2020 original was adapted from Nancy Springer’s first novel The Case of the Missing Marquess, the sequel is more of a loose adaptation of the author’s novel series. As in loose with a capital “L”.

They even incorporate the true story of the 1888 Bryant & May Matchgirls’ Strike, where Sarah Chapman was one of the leaders and turned it into a fictional retelling. It should have been an ambitious move, where the otherwise real-life Sarah Chapman in Enola Holmes 2 becomes the missing person that Enola needs to locate after she was hired by a young match girl named Bessie (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss). Her investigation soon begins by going undercover at the match factory where she works alongside Bessie but later discovers that finding the missing Sarah only leads her to a bigger conspiracy.

A scene from Netflix's "Enola Holmes 2" (2022)

Like the first movie, the sequel still suffers from an erratic pace. Only this time, the two-hour-plus running time made everything too heavy-handed for its own good. Thorne’s screenplay looks as if he wants to cover as much ground as possible. This includes the labour rights and injustice surrounding the fictional account of the Matchgirls’ Strike as well as gender equality and of course, female empowerment that has been the bread and butter of the franchise since the first movie.

Then, there’s the return of the famous Sherlock Holmes played by Henry Cavill, whose appearance and even his case happen to be related to Enola’s investigation. And finally, the obligatory twists and turns are included as well. If only Bradbeer and Thorne know how to strike a fine balance tying up all the loose ends, we might have a worthwhile sequel after all. It doesn’t help either that the eventual reveal at the end of the movie feels more like an afterthought. The action sequences are equally a letdown with the exception of a fun horse carriage chase scene, where Helena Bonham Carter steals the show reprising her role, albeit in a cameo appearance as Enola’s mother, Eudoria.

Apart from Millie Bobby Brown, I’m glad that Cavill’s return as Sherlock Holmes isn’t a passive character like he did in the first movie but more proactive this time around. Franchise newcomer David Thewlis, who plays Superintendent Grail is a nice addition to the sequel.

Enola Holmes 2 has a mid-credit stinger — something that would probably satisfy the fans and of course, an obvious hint for a third Enola Holmes movie.

Enola Holmes 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.