Enola Holmes 2 review: Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill star in Netflix's Baggy sequel

Enola Holmes 2 review: Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill star in Netflix’s Baggy sequel

There were a number of reasons why workers at the Bryant & May match factory wanted to strike in 1888: they were fined for trivial misdemeanors, reprimanded for small mistakes, and paid miserably for hours of grueling work. But above all, their owners killed them. A change in production methods – switching from red phosphorus to white phosphorus – increased the company’s profits and poisoned the employees of the match factory. The women and girls developed phosphorus necrosis, a disease that caused engorged abscesses in the mouth and fatal brain damage.

Enola Holmes, the quick-witted and whimsical protagonist of the eponymous book series, doesn’t know all this when she accepts a missing person case at the start of Netflix. Enola Holmes 2. Our young detective (played by the exceptional Millie Bobby Brown) is eager to solve a mystery. His attempts to start his own practice—economically chronicled in the dynamically edited opening sequence—are thwarted by ageism (“Well,” a client says warily, “you’re young”), sexism (“Is Am I talking to the secretary?”) and the popularity of Sherlock Holmes (“Tell me, could your brother be free?”).

Enola Holmes 2

The essential

Too many loose threads.

When Bess (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) wanders into Enola’s office, the dispirited investigator is both surprised and excited. The search for Sarah, a missing match factory worker, plunges Enola into the heart of a brewing workers’ struggle and sends her into the maze of London’s labor politics. Similar to its popular predecessor, Enola Holmes 2 anchors its protagonist in the real-life sociopolitical battles of its time – an approach that raises the stakes of its cases and invites viewers to exercise their own detective skills. But as the second installment of what is now comfortably a franchise, Enola Holmes 2 must also build a solid foundation for further adventures of its main character.

This additional responsibility weighs on the film, which struggles to maneuver its excess baggage. Enola isn’t just concerned about Sarah’s disappearance; she also navigates budding feelings for Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) and tries to escape the shadow and condescending interventions of her brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Sherlock, who became Enola’s legal guardian at the end of the first film, must now balance his own work with his brotherly duties. Whereas Enola Holmes 2 is dedicated to our determined heroine’s perspective, it occasionally entertains Sherlock’s point of view – changes that awkwardly bifurcate the film’s lens and create too much detail.

If we are to take seriously Eudoria’s (a charming Helena Bonham Carter) advice to Enola on detective work – the only rule of the profession is to “pull every loose thread” – then, although these finicky filaments do not untangle the garment, they do become unnecessary distractions. And the understandable urge to cut them out and put them away before the credits roll results in an unevenly paced film.

Enola Holmes 2 first moves with a steady buzz as Enola follows Bess to another part of London. Cobbled streets and stately Victorian buildings are replaced by muddy roads and polluted factories. Enola poses as a matchmaker and collects the first clues – a strand of hair, a burnt note, and discarded letters – that help her write the tale of Sarah’s disappearance. The pieces fit together with satisfying ease until Enola realizes that her case is far more important than a missing person’s. it is about corruption, corporate greed, fraud and an underground labor movement.

With the stakes rising, Enola reluctantly asks for Sherlock’s advice. Their loving but tense sibling dynamic is one of the most interesting parts of Enola Holmes 2: Brown and Cavill have a delightful on-screen dynamic that believable replicates the typical caustic communication style between older and younger siblings. The two don’t know how to connect and often end up misunderstanding or talking to each other, and it’s in these moments that we see Enola and Sherlock’s characters develop the most.

As the paths of siblings cross more frequently, Enola Holmes 2 oscillates and deflects in directions that interrupt the regular rhythm. The whimsical meanderings only lengthen the film and, unfortunately, stoke our impatience for the end. Harry Bradbeer is back as director, rolling out a list of similar techniques – breaking the fourth wall, dynamic perspective shifts, an animated sequence of occasional exposition, scenes reveling in Enola’s jiu jitsu skills. There’s also meticulous production and costume design by Michael Carlin and Consolata Boyle, which transports viewers to 19th-century London and highlights the city’s growing economic inequalities and contradictions. But even those touches don’t distract from the film’s more dragging segments.

Bradbeer crafted the story, based on the books by Nancy Springer, with returning screenwriter Jack Thorne. The narrative flexes its signature wit — Enola is always sharp-tongued and prone to untimely bursts of honesty — but takes in more than it can reasonably unpack. The Match Girls’ Strike of 1888, which was a process of community building, a concentrated effort to we, is repackaged as a one-voice lesson leading the masses. It’s a bit to be expected in commercial storytelling efforts, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Enola Holmes 2The flaws of don’t destroy the film – it’s a useful sequel – but the tension between the film’s topics and the soft approach is one that hopefully won’t haunt future projects.

Full Credits

Distributor: Netflix
Production companies: Legendary Entertainment, PCMA Productions
With: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, David Thewlis, Louis Partridge, Susan Wokoma, Adeel Akhtar, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Screenwriters: Jack Thorne (story and screenplay by), Harry Bradbeer (story by), Nancy Springer (based on the story by)
Producers: Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Ali Mendes, Millie Bobby Brown, Robert Brown
Executive producers: Joshua Grode, Michael Dreyer, Paige Brown, Jane Houston, Harry Bradbeer, Jack Thorne
Director of photography: Giles Nuttgens, BSC
Production designer: Michael Carlin
Costume designer: Consolata Boyle
Publisher: Adam Bosman
Composer: Daniel Pemberton
Casting Director: Orla Maxwell, CDG

Rated PG-13, 2 hours 10 minutes

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