An investigative thriller is only as good as its case, and that was the biggest drawback when we were first introduced to the entertaining world of Enola Holmes in 2020. While there was no doubt that the quaint period setting, an enterprising Millie Bobby Brown in the titular role, and a solid ensemble worked in favour of the first film, the case shrouded over a lot of positives of Enola Holmes. Incidentally, the second part of the franchise, Enola Holmes 2, too has a very similar case at the centre of it. A girl goes missing, and instead of Enola going behind the case, we have someone bringing the case to her. Apart from both cases being about missing people, Enola Holmes 2 towers above the first part simply because there are enough layers in this investigation to keep us invested.
In Enola Holmes 2, the titular character is now a professional detective who is struggling to make a living in a place where the shadow of her illustrious elder brother Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) looms large. Despite Enola showing promise in her profession, she is sidelined by the patriarchal voices that turn a lot uglier when she takes up the case of a missing match factory worker (based on the true story of Sarah Chapman and the first documented Industrial action taken by women for women). Nothing in the Holmesian universe is simple… ever. So what begins as a classic missing case becomes something more sinister that puts the lives of many women under threat. This overarching feeling doesn’t feel overwhelming because the theme is neatly woven into the film, which becomes more about Sherlock too. While I’m not really sold about the idea that a film on Enola Holmes has a bit too much Sherlock, it is still okay because the possibility of seeing the siblings going against a familiar nemesis is a fascinating premise.
While Sherlock does hog a certain portion of the limelight, the film is definitely Enola’s, and Millie brings a manic energy to the proceedings. The fourth wall breaking gets better in this instalment, and so does the wittiness in the dialogue exchanges and the swashbuckling confidence in the action sequences. Although all the Holmes siblings have been loners to a fault, the writing in Enola Holmes 2 allows them to address that and find a way to believe in others and develop allies. If Enola’s realisation about what is important to her comes with the timely and sprightly cameos of Edith (Susie Wokoma) and Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter) that lend a bit of much-needed gravitas to the film, Sherlock finds his way out of the woods thanks to Enola. It is also fascinating to see our very own affable Professor Remus Lupin from Harry Potter become the gruff and sinister Grail in Enola Holmes 2. Actor David Thewlis is commanding as the police officer who is on the payroll of the antagonists. He has no qualms about slapping and kicking around Enola, and these acts of moral turpitude just add to the colour of her character. It is these singular additions to this instalment that makes Enola Holmes 2 a much more rounded film.
Just like the first film, Enola Holmes 2 is once again a commentary on women’s empowerment, and the importance of acknowledging the power in moving forward together. The film reflects on how in a world that is not made for women, their ambitions and aspirations will often be seen as avarice. In fact, the final act might seem like a celebration, but it is one that comes from resilience born out of extreme adversity. Unlike investigative thrillers that only focus on ‘Who did the crime?’, the Enola Holmes franchise extends its scope to make us consider ‘Why did someone commit that crime?’ It is all about asking the right questions at the right times, and with Enola Holmes 2, the makers have struck the right matches… I mean, chords.
Enola Holmes 2
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, David Thewlis
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Streaming on: Netflix
(This review originally appeared on cinemaexpress.com)