Film Critic

Chuck Koplinski is The News-Gazette's film critic. His email is chuckkoplinski@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter (@ckoplinski).

SR Enola Holmes 2

Millie Bobby Brown, left, stars as the title character and Henry Cavill is her brother Sherlock in 'Enola Holmes 2' (2022).

When we first meet Enola Holmes, she’s being pursued by two London bobbies and cornered in a dead-end alley. She’s having a hard time getting her detective agency up and running, what with her more-famous sibling attracting her clients, and then there’s her romantic feelings toward Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge).

Can he be trusted with her heart? And what about the missing match factory girl she’s been trying to find, and why are some of London’s elite so concerned about stopping her from investigating a seemingly disposable worker? Enola has bitten off a bit more than she can chew ... and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you’re a serious Sherlock Holmes fan, avoid “Enola Holmes 2.” This sequel, based on the young-adult book series by Nancy Springer, plays fast and loose with the canon established by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The timeline of the detective’s life is upended, and it seriously alters his relationship with Inspector Lestrade and attributes behaviors to him that will likely make the eyes of anyone immersed in Holmesian minutiae roll to the back of their head.

No, these features are, by and large, used as a showcase for Millie Bobby Brown, the breakout star from “Stranger Things” who has taken her career by the horns, formed her own production company and produced the two “Enola” films. You have to tip your hat to the young lady, as she’s found the perfect vehicle to showcase her considerable talent. And while these movies have their charms, they’re far from perfect, the mysteries at their core overly convoluted, the films themselves too long.

Director Harry Bradbeer brings a palpable sense of energy and inventiveness to these films. The movie is an effective mash-up of cinematic techniques that brings the story to life. Sharp editing and inventive — not spastic — camerawork are employed, while most of the action sequences are imaginatively staged, though overlong. Equally effective are the striking animation scenes that are used throughout whenever Enola is putting the pieces of the everchanging puzzles that plague her together, giving a bit of insight into her mind via vivid drawings.

Brown’s efforts or talent cannot be overstated. Her charm and charisma are the key to making this all work, her confidence and self-effacing performance totally winning. This is most evident when Enola breaks the fourth wall to directly address the viewer, a device used to great effect throughout that makes the audience part of the action, the character getting us up to speed on what she’s thinking and her method of deduction, all done with a lightly comic touch thanks to Brown’s deft performance.

If you lose the thread of the film’s central mystery, don’t be too hard on yourself. Much like its predecessor, this entry’s far more convoluted than it should be, even more so this time as Jack Thorne and Bradbeer’s script strains to connect the whodunits the Holmes siblings are trying to crack. It’s labored at times while the numerous bloated action scenes don’t help.

Still, there’s enough to make you stick it out to the end. Henry Cavill as Sherlock is inspired casting, and I’d love to see him in a series covering the detective’s early days. In the end, “Enola 2’s” mystery doesn’t prove as important as the company we get to keep as it plays out.

For DVR alerts, film recommendations and movie news, follow Koplinski on Twitter @ckoplinski. His email is chuckkoplinski@gmail.com.

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