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Enola Holmes 2 review – fun Netflix detective sequel goes bigger and darker

David Thewlis's villainous police chief is a highlight in a more cinematic but baggier new chapter of the Millie Bobby Brown series

When the original Enola Holmes came out between the first two lockdowns of 2020, it seemed perfectly timed, a cosy, family-friendly adventure that felt like a feature-length pilot for a sure-to-be long-running TV series that you’d gather around to watch every Sunday evening for the foreseeable future. For better and for worse, the sequel has changed this tune – though it’s still a Netflix production through and through, Enola Holmes 2 feels more like a blockbuster film; bigger, darker, and actively looking to capture some of the rough magic of Guy Ritchie's 2009 version of Sherlock Holmes.

After establishing herself as a detective to be reckoned with in the first film, we reunite with Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown, also serving as producer) as she’s opening her actual private eye agency. While it mostly attracts people looking to use Enola for her access to big brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill), one case does grab her attention. A girl is missing, and her disappearance seems related to the financial wrongdoings of some factory owners, an ongoing crime that Sherlock’s keeping tabs on. Soon enough, Enola and her dreamy posh boy ally Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) are enmeshed in a sinister conspiracy and being chased by corrupt cops, led by the ruthless Superintendent Grail (David Thewlis).

A newcomer to the series, Thewlis’s casting exemplifies the best instincts of Enola Holmes 2. He brings his specific brand of believable and frightening nastiness, Grail often posing a very genuine threat to Enola not just as a crusading detective but as a young woman in over her head. He’s the standout of the new cast, though Sharon Duncan-Brewster’s mysterious private secretary character gets a few strong moments, dragging the story across the unsavoury back alleys of Victorian London before reaching some properly dark places by the end.

With this grander scale, though, comes some sloppiness and a middle act that does rather drag with exposition, cruddy action, and a Helena Bonham Carter performance (as Enola’s warrior suffragette mum) that returning director Harry Bradbeer seems to have no idea what to do with. Though the mystery is fun, and an unexpected but affecting focus on the power of collective labour action is very welcome, Jack Thorne’s script – again directly adapting one of the Nancy Springer novels) – can suffer in the moment to moment dialogue, fizzy and funny one minute but rather petering out the next. Meanwhile, the admittedly rather forced references to Holmes lore might grate some, but I found them very enjoyable, and a set-piece involving weaponised soup cans grants the whole film an amusingly unintentional immediate relevance.

Netflix clearly feel they’re onto a winner with the Enola Holmes series, and with this second entry into the series it’s hard to argue with that – though it might skew just a little older than the original, this is still solid whole-family viewing. While hardly groundbreaking, the quasi-feminist mystery solving has plenty of comfort-viewing mileage in it, especially in a series that can grow alongside its young lead.

Enola Holmes is released in UK cinemas on October 28 and on Netflix on 4 November.

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