The game is afoot, again, as Sherlock’s younger, smarter, pluckier little sister heads out on her first proper case. Millie Bobby Brown leads another likeable crime caper that feels like a solid second chapter for the YA series – even if it is slightly muddied by boy problems.
With the adventures of 2020’s origin story behind her, Enola (Bobby Brown) is now set up as a proper private detective in her own right. But who’s actually going to hire a teenage girl to solve crimes in Victorian London? Another teenage girl, of course – putting her on the trail of a missing factory worker that ends up exposing a sticky web of lies, murder and corruption that goes right to the top.
Where the first film was set against a backdrop of women’s suffarage, Enola’s first case gives us a potted history of the 1888 matchgirls’ strike – mixing the horrors of Typhoid, phosphorus poisoning and child labour laws with the film’s peppy, polished tweenage tone. It’s all hugely well-intentioned though, and writer Jack Thorne does a decent job of balancing the scales.
Most of the credit still belongs to Bobby Brown, always keeping the audience on her side through another loveable (if slightly cartoony) slice of book-smart heroism. No longer a lost runaway searching for her own place in big brother’s story, Enola is in full grown-up detective mode here – seen beating up coppers on the rooftops of Whitechapel, then fishing a drunk Sherlock (Henry Cavill) out of a gutter.
But with age comes other distractions. Where Enola’s debut adventure gave the slightly wet Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) a welcome backseat, here he returns as a dishy liberal MP who Enola can’t keep her eyes off. “Is he looking back?” she asks the camera as he walks away, Fleabag style, almost biting her lip. The romcom never gets too tangled in the main plot but it’s a shame to see Enola Holmes caving to convention quite so quickly (you never see Sherlock stopping one of his cases so he can flirt with a paper fan…)
For the most part though, Enola is now every bit the equal of her genius brother and her firebrand mum (Helena Bonham Carter). Supernaturally gifted at spotting clues and solving puzzles, she unpicks the threads of her first case without even trying, only forced into a few cracking fights and chases by the dastardly Superintendent Grail (David Thewlis, proving again that there’s no film too clean he can’t scuzz up).
Fizzing along nicely, even as it tips the two-hour mark, Enola Holmes 2 fits the mould it broke two years ago with a twisty murder mystery that’s well worth solving. A nice end credit sting sets the story up for a bigger part three, and a mid-point reveal suggests Enola’s new cases might start tangling with her brother’s, but it’ll be a shame if the real hero finds herself stepping out of the spotlight. Two films in, Enola is far more interesting than most on-screen Sherlocks have been in years.
- Director: Harry Bradbeer
- Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Louis Partridge
- Release date: October 28 (in cinemas), November 4 (Netflix)