There is a seemingly endless list of different iterations of the iconic British detective Sherlock Holmes.
From Robert Downey Jr.’s stylized version of the character to the animated Sherlock Gnomes voiced by Johnny Depp, each iteration tries to provide its own fresh take on the character. Many often fail to provide anything more than cliche, but that doesn’t stop movie studios from churning out new Sherlock-centric stories every few years.
“Enola Holmes,” the latest of these films, was produced by Legendary Pictures and was made available on Netflix last week.
When the film was announced, I wrote it off as what would likely be another lackluster detective story. The idea of choosing to focus on Enola Holmes, a younger but equally as clever sister to Sherlock, seemed like a thinly-veiled attempt to cater to what studio heads think modern audiences are looking for. The cast assembled for the film, consisting of Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter and more, was impressive, but I just couldn’t get excited for this movie.
I’m glad to say that “Enola Holmes” surprised me.
The film is a refreshing and fun take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos. The mystery it provides is decently intriguing, and the performances were wonderful. Overall, “Enola Holmes” makes for a fairly entertaining flick that doesn’t ask too much of its viewer.
The story of “Enola Holmes” sees its titular character, played by Brown, attempting to crack the case of her mother’s sudden disappearance. Her older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, both arrive home to take care of her in their mother’s stead, but Enola chooses to set off on her own to solve her mother’s mystery. Along the way, she meets a young man named Tewkesbury with whom she gets entangled in a larger conspiracy that could affect the future of all of England.
The mystery in “Enola Holmes” isn’t a complex puzzle that will challenge or confuse audiences. Instead, it chooses to stick to the basics and mainly limit its characters to a trail of breadcrumbs. Though this may sound disappointing at first, it provides its great characters with amusing and interesting situations to work through.
The characters in this film are its strongest aspect.
Though the mystery may be a little bland, it’s a ton of fun to watch these characters solve it. The lead character, Enola, isn’t just Sherlock as a teenage girl — which is what I feared she would be. She’s a genuinely standalone character that, while she shares Sherlock’s intellect, approaches life through a much looser and more personal perspective. Brown plays her character perfectly by injecting her performance with immense confidence and charm. Though she may have struggled to step out of the “Stranger Things” shadow until now, I believe “Enola Holmes” proves that Brown has a lot more to offer in her career than the hit Netflix show.
The supporting cast of the film was just as delightful. Cavill (from “Man of Steel” and “The Witcher”) steps into the shoes of Sherlock and plays him more as a quiet observer than an overly confident sleuth. His performance was significantly toned down from those of Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch, but it worked for the character’s role in this film. Sherlock doesn’t play a large role in the mystery here. Instead, he’s depicted as a mentor figure to Enola. Choosing to keep Sherlock out of the spotlight like this was an excellent decision. The audience still gets enough of him to be satisfied, but at no point does the character steal this movie away from his younger sister.
I think my only real complaint about “Enola Holmes” is the breaking of the fourth wall.
There are many points in the film in which Enola looks directly into the camera and narrates to the audience, like the popular “Deadpool” films. I typically don’t mind fourth-wall breaking, but it wasn’t necessary and really only distracted the viewer. I can’t help but feel the film would have been better served if it had just been a straightforward narrative.
Is “Enola Holmes” the be-all and end-all of “Sherlock Holmes” movies? No, it isn’t. But it is a charming and enjoyable mystery that provides a worthwhile experience. It boasts strong performances from its cast and all of the characters are delightful. This isn’t the kind of mystery movie you need to sit down and pay attention to; instead, it’s lighter, less complicated and well-suited for casual viewing when hanging out with a few friends.