Enola Holmes 2 (Christian Movie Review)
About The Movie
Once again, dear readers, we find ourselves at the scene of another Netflix original film. Following the breakout success of Enola Holmes (2020), the gang is back for another sleuthing adventure. Can it charm audiences again or has its luck run out? We must rely on deductive reasoning to get to the bottom of this question. My friends, the game is afoot.
The first thread we must pull on is the characters. Millie Bobby Brown, beyond having arguably the most delightfully fun name to say in all of Hollywood, has already proven her acting chops. The Enola Holmes films don’t necessarily require much emotional depth, but she is perfectly suited for the role of the quirky and inquisitive sister to the famous Sherlock Holmes. Speaking of everybody’s favorite pipe-smoking detective, Henry Cavill is also well cast for the role. While he is given more screentime than in the first film, he remains too much on the sidelines. So far, so good; but the trace is still hot, so onward we go….
The next clue is the story. As with the first film, the plot can perhaps be summed up, my dear Watson, as “elementary.” It is rarely as clever as it wants to be. The central mystery is uncompelling, and the steps taken to solve it are rarely satisfying or exciting. Thus, the story becomes largely inconsequential, a mere excuse to go swashbuckling through Victorian London with the charming characters. We’re nearing a resolution, but if we are to break the case, we must move on to our final clue.
Our third piece of evidence is tone and direction. If the story can be summed up as “elementary,” than the tone can be succinctly described as “earnest.” There is enough energy in this movie to soften the resolve of even the most hardened cynic. With a boisterous musical score, spirited acting, characters breaking the fourth wall, and stylized visuals that explode with creative invention, it’s hard not to get swept up in a film this fun. Some of the visual choices, animations, and scene transitions are excellent and made me smile.
Well, my fellow sleuths, we’ve reached the moment of decision. Moriarty has laid his traps well, but in the end, the truth wins out. Enola Holmes 2 is not a great movie, but it’s a fun and charming film with good acting, an irresistibly earnest tone, and an abundance of creative inspiration.
Engage The Film
While this section of the review is titled “Beneath the Surface,” viewers don’t need to look all that deep or possess the intellectual genius of Sherlock Holmes to discover the film’s primary theme. It can be summed up by a quote from near the end of the film when a pigheaded man yells, “Why can’t anyone control these bloody women!”
As with the first Enola Holmes movie, the story is largely focused on feminism and the question of how to find your way as a woman in a man’s world. Despite its breezy tone, it attempts to be a more socially conscious story. For the most part, the feminist message is of the rather simplistic “but you’re a girl!” variety (which make sense, given its young target audience). Thus, every male character is either pigheaded or abusive, with the exceptions of Lord Viscount Tewkesbury, Enola’s love-interest and a progressive political hero, and Sherlock, whose character arc overcomes these prejudices.
Despite the sometimes-simplistic handling of the theme, it establishes some interesting dilemmas. One female character says, “Without power, we women must rely on our wit for our fortune.” The quote is contrasted with an earlier bit of advice Enola receives: “All it takes is one small thing to change the rules of the world.” Taken together, the tension is whether the women should accept the rules of the game and do their best to win or change the rules on a foundational level. The story shows various paths women take to navigate this issue. For example, Enola’s mother essentially performs acts of terrorism, using bombs and illegal tactics, while Enola takes a (relatively) more peaceful approach to challenging societal norms. A twist near the end of the film adds another interesting wrinkle.
Alone v. Allies
As established in the first film, Enola’s name spelt backwards is “alone.” Her solitary existence leads her to seek inner strength and also to realize she must rely on others. There is a thread of self-empowerment and individualism. Enola’s mother counsels her, “Too many people make it their sole purpose in life to fit into the world around them. This is a mistake. It’s your path.” Later, she remarks, “Sometimes you’ll stumble…No matter how lost you feel, if you stay true to yourself, the path will always find you again.”
At the same time, Enola comes to realize she cannot succeed on her own (although, what her friends and allies contribute to her success is questionable). This lesson is applied to women at large. Just one woman alone will likely not produce change, but there is power in numbers.
The relational message is positive, though the communal aspect is still depicted through the lens of individualism. For example, Enola is told, “You could do very well on your own. But with others, you could be magnificent,” and later, “Find your allies. Work with them, and you will become more of who you are.” Thus, the allies seem to serve a somewhat selfish function (ie. having friends and allies is good for you and makes you better), which is incongruous with the biblical understanding of unity and self-sacrifice for the good of others (Proverbs 27:17, Hebrews 10:24-25).