‘Enola Holmes’ review: Netflix’s crime-solving blockbuster is as feminist as it is fun

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s newest original film “Enola Holmes” has helped fill the pandemic-sized void among audiences with a whimsical take on the classic Sherlock Holmes narrative.

In this new mystery film, Millie Bobby Brown plays Enola, the smart and feisty younger sister of master detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). After the disappearance of her mother (Helena Bonham Carter), Enola goes on an adventure to find her. As if finding her missing mother while also evading Sherlock and her other brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) weren’t enough, Enola meets young Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) with a price on his head. 

It’s a lot to ask of a 16-year-old girl, but Enola isn’t your average Victorian-era lady. Taught by her feminist mother, Enola is skilled in archery, jiujitsu, code-breaking and other various dangerous skills. 

The best part about this movie is Brown. Not only does she star in the film, she also has a producing credit. Just like her character, Brown is anything but ordinary. Best known for her role as Eleven in the Netflix show “Stranger Things,” Brown has proven she’s an excellent actress, and she shines again in “Enola Holmes.” Her charm propels the plot forward, and with Enola talking to the audience throughout the movie, Brown is able to break the fourth wall in a way that would make Phoebe Waller-Bridge proud. 

 

Sherlock Holmes, however, is pretty dull in comparison. After seeing multiple versions of the character in the past two decades, Henry Cavill’s portrayal doesn’t offer anything new. As for the rest of the cast, it feels as if they are mainly there to build off Brown’s performance. It’s obvious that the actors had fun with their roles, with most notably Bonham Carter being an eccentric mentor to Brown’s Enola. Brown and Carter were well-matched as mother and daughter; their on-screen chemistry is electric, with both actresses playing off the other beautifully.  

While “Enola Holmes” isn’t breaking any new ground in the Victorian-era crime genre, the twist of having a young girl as the protagonist instead of an older man proves to be quite effective, especially during the more dangerous parts of this movie. It’s more gripping to see young Enola fight off a hitman than it would be to see Sherlock. Brown’s fight choreography is a lot of fun to watch, especially when she’s dealing out realistic jiujitsu moves on bad guys. 

Brown’s performance outshines the rest of the cast, and while audiences may wish this movie had more to offer, it’s still one of the more delightful and polished films to come out of 2020.

Overall, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this film, and its feminist twist on an old literary figure provides a great message in the crime-thriller genre: You don’t have to be a man to be a Holmes. 

3.5 Millie Bobby Brown smirks out of 5.