Apparently, I have not reviewed Enola Holmes (2020). I probably should have checked here on The Legionnaire, but I decided my memory was good enough and forged ahead anyway with Enola Holmes 2. I could have sworn I had at least seen the predecessor, though something else tells me I turned it off in annoyance. Given how this latest addition to revisionist literature goes, and how many times I rolled my eyes at the proceedings, it strikes me as a distinct possibility that I turned it off before completion. What kept me going here was a faulty recollection of having seen and reviewed Enola Holmes. I guess I will now have to go back and correct that faultiness. In the meantime, this means you are getting a treatment of Enola Holmes 2, out of order, and I do not care.
Okay, so our titular character (Millie Bobby Brown) in Enola Holmes 2 comes at us from the jump, breaking the fourth wall while running from the police. Because we do not know why she is being chased by peelers (look it up), we spend the next forty-five minutes or so playing catch-up. Enola is the little sister of Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill), and in the previous film, something happened that made her feel emboldened to trade on the family name (and trade, again) and open her own detective agency. This turns out to be a bust because those who do stop by her tiny office take her for being a minor (which she is), dismiss her as a woman, and/or want to deal with her more famous brother. On the point of closing up shop for good, she receives a case when young Bessie Chapman (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) asks Enola for help in finding her sister, Sarah Chapman (Hannah Dodd). The Chapmans, though not related by blood, are part of a sisterhood working at the Lyons match factory. That is where Enola begins her investigation, going in disguise as one of a number of faceless match girls. While on the floor, she notices the odd behavior of Mae (Abbie Hern), and decides there is more going on here than appears. As such, she sneaks into the foreman’s offices and begins her investigations. These lead her to an apparently secret meeting discussing some kind of attack as well as missing documents. Her hunch is that they are talking about Sarah, and that she is a thief. But to what purpose? Believing that Mae knows more than she is letting on, Enola decides to follow match girl. Doing so brings her to the Paragon Theater where Mae is a chorus girl. To Enola, this is evidence of a double life, meaning that Mae knows more than she is letting on. Bribing a backstage employee nets Enola a secret love poem. As she is heading home with this new information, she stumbles upon a drunk Sherlock, who she decides to help back to his famous quarters at 221B Baker Street. While settling her brother, she notices that he, too, is working on a case, though he seems to be having trouble with it. The next morning, she heads out to the park to work on deciphering the love note she found the previous night. The clues point to a home in another part of London where she finds Mae stabbed to death and a bit of sheet music. Not long after her arrival she is joined by Superintendent of Police Grail (David Thewlis). He finds her standing over the body with blood on her hands. Naturally thinking she is the murderer, he orders her arrest, and this brings us to the beginning of the film. She is bailed out once more by Sherlock. Yet, instead of heeding his advice to stay in his flat, she decides to go to those who run the factory and confront them with her suspicions. Her initial attempt is brushed off as not in keeping with social etiquette. Her cause gets a boost when her crush, Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Patridge), teaches her how to dance, thus giving the socially acceptable reason for her to talk to her main target, William Lyon (Gabriel Tierney). Before she can learn the truth, however, the police arrive and she is arrested. She is spared the noose when her mother, Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter), who apparently is a terrorist, blows a hole in the side of the prison and helps Enola escape. With some motherly advice about working with others, Enola returns to London to finish the case. To do so, she enlists Lord Tewkesbury’s help, which is also part of her admitting that she has feelings for him. Together, they then head to the factory where they believe they will find William. They do come across William’s corpse, but also Sherlock in the flesh, tracking down leads in his own case. The clues at the scene, though, point them back to the Paragon Theater. It is here that all the threads of the case meet. Sarah and William had been working alongside one another to uncover the corruption going on at the factory, with those running it purposely infecting their employees with typhus. This is the reason for Sarah’s disappearance, so she and William could bring the truth to light. For Sherlock, the wrong doing goes higher into the government, hence his presence. Coming to the scene is Superintendent Grail, who is in the employee of Sherlock’s archnemesis, Moriarty (Sharon Duncan Brewter). A struggle breaks out between the principal people involved until Enola is able to outwit Superintendent Grail. Moriarty, who has been masquerading as a secretary to Lord Charles McIntyre (Tim McMullan), Chancellor of the Exchequer, is revealed to be the real enemy behind everything. Lord McIntyre is unconcerned with this or the plot, seeking to only keep the Lyons in business, burning the evidence to which Sarah had led them. No matter, though, as Enola helps Sarah lead a strike of the match girls. We close with Enola introducing Sherlock to Dr. Watson (Himesh Patel).
I mentioned in the introduction to this review of Enola Holmes 2 that the film is presenting revisionist literature. I am no Sherlock Holmes expert, but my limited understanding of the source material tells me that Enola’s character is made up. This is backed up by the most cursory of internet searches. There is also a lot of anachronistic history in the film, particularly in regards to the role of women in Victorian England, but that has never stopped Hollywood. They did take a real person, Sarah Chapman, and mashed up her real fight for factory workers’ rights with an Enola/Sherlock Holmes detective story, but whatever, I guess. This is makes the proceedings hard to pin down for this Catholic reviewer. On the one hand you have Enola, independent and tough. On the other, you have her explosive enthusiast mother telling her daughter to essentially settle down, which she seems to do with Lord Tewkesbury in the end. As such, it would seem that the film is appealing to non-traditional and traditional roles for the so-called fairer sex. Of course, at least with Catholicism, the truth is more complicated. Whether women choose marriage or religious life, the choices are much more vast than what society typically believes. Then again, where would we be without stereotypes? In this limited sense, the film is not that bad. Enola rides the line, but she does what God would ask of any of us: to choose. With Faith, the choice is always God, no matter what you do.
The reason I said earlier that Enola Holmes 2 made my eyes roll is because some of the stuff that happens is so out of place with the times in which it is set. I suppose it does not matter given that we are dealing with fiction anyway, although it does begin with a disclaimer that some of these events are true. This is the Sarah Chapman stuff, yet that too has fictionalized parts. Finally, it all seems to cheapen the brilliance of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. If you want good stories in the same vein, watch the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Sherlock (2010-2017).