Enola Holmes isn't an overly ambitious movie. It doesn't attempt to rewrite the Sherlock Holmes world in a grandiose way. It doesn't take nearly as many risks as Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes in shaking up formulas. It's mostly a simple story, relying heavily on the acting talent and star-power of Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill to carry it along.
It is a good enough film, giving Brown plenty to show off with, something "Stranger Things" has severely lacked. The monosyllabic Eleven may show off her ability to do a tremendous amount of weighty acting mostly with facial expressions, but Enola Holmes shows off her wit, her charm, and a range that she hasn't gotten to adequately explore. Every to-the-camera aside in the film couldn't be more adorable, more charming, more charismatic... But the shaky plotting does detract somewhat from the character. We're told constantly that she's trained her entire life to do just about everything except deal with people and society. Instead of being a fish out of water, she does surprisingly well at fitting in, though this training we're constantly shown and told about fails her again and again when actually tested. If anything, Enola comes off as weak, which she definitely should not. I expected her to put up more of a fight throughout the course of the movie, often just laying down for circumstances when they were against her. Perhaps if she'd broken Mycroft's nose or choked out Miss Harrison, I'd have had more respect for her. The whole thing is, of course, based on a series of books, so perhaps the fault lies there. The move is ultimately fun, if uneven.
Aside from Cavill and Brown, Sam Claflin returns after the recent viewing of The Nightingale. After his villainous turn there, he appears as Mycroft Holmes, playing the antagonist for much of the film, which seems to be his forte. He can exude arrogance and haughtiness like no one else, it seems, though this was a much more enjoyable role than previously seen. I could mention Helena Bonham Carter, but I probably shouldn't, as her roles barely registers a pulse; she isn't bad, she just isn't that noticeable at all. The rest of the various character actors filling out the cast do their best and it feel like a well-made movie, something more deserving of a theatrical release than most movies that make it into theaters. I suppose that's the paradox of our times: good things seem to be made for streaming services to watch on TV at home while the crap shows up in the theater.
The main "mystery" of the film is mostly an underwhelming formality, much more focus put on the search for the Holmeses' mother, Enola's quest for independence, humor, and the burgeoning love story. But I suppose that's understandable for a property aimed primarily at children and teens. Despite the fact that I started watching it by myself, my five-year-old detached herself from reading to start watching it with me and seemed to enjoy it more than most other "age-appropriate" movies that she's seen in recent memory. (Though the mystery elements were a bit lost on her. I don't think American five-year-olds really get plots involving Victorian traditions, suffrage, and voting within the House of Lords.)
After a lot of depressing, dull, and unfulfilling movies over this month, Enola Holmes was a rare treat, though probably not too memorable beyond being a hell of an acting reel for Millie Bobby Brown, who is either going to be a hot, young acting juggernaut in a few years or will sort of drift away and become a strange distant memory for those nostalgic of this era. I don't know how her acting talents will manage to be squandered, but only time will tell. If she keeps taking such an active role in her career, as she did in producing this film herself, then she might have a very bright future.