Enola Holmes 2 (2022) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4): Miss Holmes Returns

Netflix film “Enola Holmes 2”, the sequel to “Enola Holmes” (2020), has more fun and excitement with its plucky titular heroine and several other characters around her. Based on the acclaimed young adult novel series by Nancy Springer, the movie cheerfully and thrillingly bounces around here and there in its 19th century Victorian background as its young heroine tries to solve her latest case, and you will appreciate its vibrant wit and humor as well as some nice modern touches throughout the story.

The story, written by director Harry Bradbeer and his screenplay writer Jack Thorne, begins at the point a few years after where the previous movie ends. Our heroine Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) has tried to start her own little detective agency in London, and she surely aspires to become as prominent as her famous older brother Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) someday, but, alas, things have not been going that well for her. Just because she is a woman, she is always disregarded and underestimated by those potential clients of hers, and she is about to give up running her detective agency when an unexpected client suddenly shows up in front of her.

That client in question is a little underage female factory worker named Bessy Chapman (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss), and she wants Enola to find her older sister who was suddenly disappeared for no apparent reason. Both Bessy and her older sister happen to be the employees of some big local match factory, and, after doing some investigation at their match factory whose shabby environment surely evokes Charles Dickens novels, Enola comes to see that the disappearance of Bessy’s older sister is somehow connected with whatever is going inside the factory.

However, the situation turns out to be much more perilous than expected as Enola delves more into her case. I will not go into details here for not spoiling your fun, but I can tell you instead that she soon gets herself into a big trouble as shown from the opening scene of the film, and it is not much of a spoiler to tell you that she comes across her older brother again, who has incidentally been having some big headache over a rather complicated financial case.

Besides Enola’s famous older brother, several other characters from the previous film also return to help Enola in one way or another. Enola’s radical suffragette mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) and Eudoria’s old friend Edith (Susie Wokoma) are certainly ready to help Enola a bit later in the story, and there is also Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), a young reformer nobleman who had some adventurous time along with Enola in the previous film. When he and Enola come across again, the mood is rather awkward as both of them hesitate to express their mutual feeling, and we later get more amusement when they have another unexpected encounter while Enola tries to focus more on solving her current case.

Meanwhile, it gradually turns out that Enola’s case is also connected with her older brother’s case. There is someone who seems to be having a naughty criminal fun against them, and it does not take much time for both Enola and her older brother to realize that a corrupt cop named Grail (David Thewlis) is involved with this hidden figure, who has no qualms at all about blocking Enola and her older brother by any means necessary.

As Enola moves from one point to another in her increasingly risky investigation, the movie provides several nice action scenes. Although the climactic action sequence is a bit too long in my humble opinion, the movie thankfully does not lose any of its spirit and momentum at all even at that point, and the finale is pretty satisfying as everything in the story clicks together with simple clarity before culminating to the Victorian equivalent of that famous moment in “Norma Rae” (1979). As shown at the end of the story, Bessy’s older sister is based on a real-life female match factory worker, and she and many other female match factory workers really fought hard for changing their very unhealthy work environment.

The movie is also supported well by the colorful performances from its various cast members, some of whom are incidentally interesting color-blind casting choices. Steadily carrying the film as required, Millie Bobby Brown, who has been already ready to move onto the next step of her promising acting career since her breakthrough turn in Netflix TV series “Stranger Things”, effortlessly exudes her character’s irrepressible charm, spirit, and intelligence, and Henry Cavill, who has demonstrated that he can do more than solemnly playing a certain well-known superhero, has his own good moments as a more caring version of Sherlock Holmes. While Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Susie Wokoma, and Adeel Akhtar are solid as before, David Thewlis, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Hannah Dodd, Serrana Su-Ling Bliss, and Himesh Patel are also well-cast in their respective supporting parts, and Thewlis, who can be quite subtle if necessary, willingly chews his scenes as the main villain of the film even though he does not have any moustache to twirl.

Overall, “Enola Homes 2” is one or two steps over the previous film in many aspects. If the previous film is a test run, the movie goes further with what makes the previous film so enjoyable, and Bradbeer and his cast and crew members did a commendable job on the whole. In short, this is one of the best movies from Netflix during this year, and I must confess that I am already looking forward to enjoying its heroine’s next adventure.

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