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Movie Review: ‘Enola Holmes 2’ Is A Massive Improvement Over the First

Movie Review: ‘Enola Holmes 2’ Is A Massive Improvement Over the First

Director: Harry Bradbeer

Writers: Jack Thorne

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Louis Partridge, David Thewlis, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Helena Bonham Carter 

Synopsis: Now a detective-for-hire, Enola Holmes takes on her first official case to find a missing girl as the sparks of a dangerous conspiracy ignite a mystery that requires the help of friends – and Sherlock himself – to unravel. 

I wasn’t a big fan of the first Enola Holmes – its meta-structure made it terribly languishing, with the movie stopping dead in its tracks in the middle of a vital sequence to wink at the audience. Its plot was also terribly predictable. Even as a side character, Henry Cavill’s talents felt wasted as Sherlock Holmes, not to mention Helena Bonham Carter, who was barely in it. So I’m surprised that I tremendously enjoyed Enola Holmes 2, even if it’s way too long and has a plot that a five-year-old could solve. 

Running at 130 minutes, the sequel sees Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) solve her first case, investigating the disappearance of Sarah Chapman (Hannah Dodd). She quickly discovers a conspiracy, with a corrupt police Superintendent (David Thewlis) trying to cover up a series of murders that involve girls working at a match factory. Enola’s case is also linked to Sherlock’s (Henry Cavill), who has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with his yet-to-be-revealed arch-nemesis Moriarty. 

It won’t take long for you to deduce who Moriarty is, simply by the name the character disguises themselves in. I won’t say who it is, but it’s always right in your face. And if you’re not able to immediately go, “A-ha! That’s Moriarty!,” you may not be a good detective after all. Jokes aside, its “uncrackable” case doesn’t seem so uncrackable when you put two and two together. The clues are in Enola and Sherlock’s faces the entire time, but they need to analyze every painstaking detail before they can “truly” solve it. The solving aspect is a bit overlong, especially if you see everything coming a mile away, but the film’s core remains fun. 

It’s incredible how director Harry Bradbeer goes from tepid and overlong in the first film to consistently excite audiences and zip them from one location to the next in the second installment. The movie has its share of slow moments, but it’s never boring. Its breakneck pace puts one action sequence after another, and they’re all thrilling to watch. Some of them aren’t as tightly edited as others (especially the climax, which defies the 180-degree rule multiple times, with the clunkiest editing choices possible), but there’s always a sense of great adventure as Enola keeps getting chased by Grail (Thewlis) and the forces who want her dead to cover up pure political corruption. 

A midpoint chase scene involving Enola being rescued by her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) is the movie’s highlight, terrifically building up tension inside the carriage while Thewlis’ Grail pursues them with his terrifying cane-gun. Thewlis is a terrific actor, and delivers a highly caricatural, and yet frightening, performance as Grail. He is the film’s biggest highlight, and a much better antagonist than who Moriarty is revealed to be, as we spent so little time with that villain compared to Grail who seems to have some grudge against Sherlock Holmes. 

As Sherlock, Cavill is the perfect fit for the character. It seems that Bradbeer listened to audience complaints that he was woefully underused in the first movie, and therefore links his case with Enola’s. Bobby Brown is, once again, excellent as Enola, and has hilarious chemistry with her on-screen brother. Thwarting Sherlock in the middle of the action, while not giving him the complete spotlight (since this is Enola Holmes 2 after all) was the best decision to expand on the character in the second installment. 

Enola’s chemistry with Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) is also greatly improved in this installment compared with the first, where they had very little. In this movie, Tewkesbury is the story’s most significant comic relief, with the two actors having perfect comedic timing as they desperately try to say they’re in love, but are hindered by the case’s multiple twists and turns. It’s a fun character dynamic with two earnest performances from talented actors who are given good material.

It’s just a shame that the core of the case can be solved as soon as all of its pieces are presented, but it didn’t much matter in the film’s larger picture. Enola Holmes 2 is a massive improvement over the first, not only from an aesthetic standpoint with a series of high-octane action sequences, but from a pacing perspective, as well. Its pieces are constantly moving, which makes for a more engrossing experience with Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, and David Thewlis. A mid-credit scene sets up the third installment, which I hope will come out sooner rather than later, even with Cavill committing to Superman’s return. His take on Holmes is terrific, and I, for one, can’t wait to see him again on the screen solving yet another large case. 

 

Grade: A-

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