Sequels rarely live up to their predecessors, more often than not lacking the charm or the narrative intrigue of the first. With endless wit and charisma, however, Netflix’s “Enola Holmes 2” proves itself to be an exception. In the latest sequel released Nov. 4, Millie Bobby Brown continues to defy expectations as she reaches for even greater heights as protagonist Enola Holmes.
Following her success in solving a grand mystery in the original film, Enola opens up her own detective agency to little intrigue from the masses, who are much more interested in her older brother, Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). However, Enola finally receives her first case in the mysterious disappearance of Sarah Chapman (Hannah Dodd), a match girl who seemingly went missing overnight. But Enola quickly realizes the case runs deeper than it appears and must seek out the help of a few friends, alongside her brother Sherlock, to help bust the case wide open.
“Enola Holmes 2” diverges from adapting the Nancy Springer series “The Enola Holmes Mysteries,” instead taking on a fictionalized portrayal of the 1888 Matchgirls’ Strike in London. Thousands of match girls unified as a result of unfair and unsafe conditions in the match factories they worked at, with Sarah Chapman acting as one of many leaders of the strike. “Enola Holmes 2” manages to capture how the match girls were trailblazers in the workplace, and calls forward a moving portrayal of the solidarity of the young women amid the fight for gender equality.
Compared to its predecessor, the stakes of “Enola Holmes 2” are that much higher. As viewers try to solve the mystery alongside Enola, they find themselves constantly at the edges of their seats. As Enola traverses London and witnesses government corruption alongside the dangers of the match factories, all the while being pursued for her meddling, the sequel successfully takes on a darker tone.
Although the film may be less lighthearted than its predecessor, it is no less comedic. In fact, the new darkness paves the way for further nuance in the series. What made “Enola Holmes” was not its cheery brightness, but the wit of its characters, and the clever writing of the original is found in its sequel as well.
While Brown and Cavill reprise their protagonist roles with ease, fascinating new roles such as David Thewlis as the persistent Superintendent Grail add fresh faces to the franchise. No matter where the film takes the viewer next, “Enola Holmes 2” is ripe with excellent performances all around. As new antagonists provide a renewed sense of suspense, the film further develops Sherlock and Enola as individual characters while simultaneously expanding on their relationship.
Underlying the mystery, of course, is the continued romance of Enola and Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) from the original film, and it is just as adorable now as it was then. The two are still as awkward and endearing as they dance around their feelings throughout the film, trying to navigate romance amid a high-stakes disappearance. Brown and Partridge are utterly spellbinding together, and one can only hope to see their relationships flourish.
Ultimately, “Enola Holmes 2” crafts a compelling mystery; it not only further develops its characters, but hones in on a moving, inspiring story of women fighting for better treatment. The film shifts from inducing laughter to inspiring awe, and it elevates the mystery film into something more than just a whodunit.
“Enola Holmes 2” certainly sets the standard for what a sequel should look like. The sequel not only raises the stakes from the first film, but manages to maintain the same mesmerizing humor, its riveting cast of characters and an incredible feminist narrative — one can only hope to see more of Enola in the future.