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Millie Bobby Brown puts spunky spin on Sherlock

The game is pleasantly afoot yet again, with a new super-sleuth worthy of her forebears.

Directed by Harry Bradbeer (“Killing Eve,” “Fleabag”), the girl-powered action-adventure “Enola Holmes” (★★★ out of four; rated PG-13; streaming Wednesday on Netflix) introduces Sherlock’s spunky teen sister into the storied detective’s screen legacy. “Stranger Things” breakout Millie Bobby Brown lends smarts and charm to the title punch-throwing, clue-finding wild child in a clever if overlong coming-of-age quest that’s all about embracing change instead of stuffy sameness.

Set in 1884, the movie unfurls in an England on the precipice of a new century, with women’s suffrage an important cause and a reform bill on the docket in London that could expand voting rights. At the country estate where she lives, however, Enola isn’t part of that world – she’s homeschooled by her eccentric mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) in the wonders of jiu jitsu, indoor tennis and reading the entire encyclopedia (and every book in sight).

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Millie Bobby Brown is a teen sleuth with a wild streak in the Netflix action-adventure "Enola Holmes."

On the morning of her 16th birthday, Enola wakes up to find her mom has disappeared, though she’s left some clues for the youngster to find. Enola’s long-absent big brothers, snooty Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and world-famous Sherlock (Henry Cavill), arrive to investigate the matter and Mycroft intends on sending Enola to finishing school to be a proper “lady.” Horrified by the thought, Enola escapes, hops on a train to London to find her mom and becomes embroiled in a whole other mystery when she meets young Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), a runaway marquess who’s being pursued by a murderous villain (Burn Gorman) in a bowler hat.

Written by Jack Thorne (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”) and based on Nancy Springer’s young-adult books, “Enola” borrows certain aspects from the recent Robert Downey Jr. “Sherlock Holmes” movies and TV’s popular modern-day “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch, but thankfully it’s not a female-friendly reboot of 1985’s “Young Sherlock Holmes.” 

Enola is definitely her own Holmes, a talented teen who exudes a certain confidence that often gets her into sticky situations. She’s never out of any fight, though, which goes a long way toward explaining her determined personality, and her inner thoughts come through in many humorous and revealing asides to the camera, breaking the fourth wall a la “Fleabag” and giving a freshness to the Holmes brand.

While Sherlock definitely takes a backseat to his sibling as a supporting character, Cavill’s take on the iconic role is both complementary and different from the familiar. This detective puts up a bit of the cool, calculating exterior that we’re used to – and there’s a bruising quality that Cavill brings with his frame and filmography (he is Superman, after all) – yet his interactions and reconnection with Enola knock down that wall and reveal a warmhearted big lug. Brown and Cavill have great chemistry and their dynamic is the most fun of the film, as Sherlock lives for the times when his little sister gets one over on him.

Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) reconnects with older brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill, left) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) in "Enola Holmes."

“Enola,” which weaves in real-life history (in this case, Britain’s Representation of the People Act of 1884), also offers Netflix a potential franchise that’s well-suited to Brown (who’s also a producer on the film) and lets her do something fun other than battle 1980s interdimensional monsters. A British girl who’s the same age as her onscreen character, Brown offers a youthful and enthusiastic authenticity much like Tom Holland’s Spider-Man – sure, you could get an older actor to play that part but you can’t beat the real thing. All the female characters in “Enola” pop, though, from Carter’s off-the-wall mysterious matriarch to Susan Wokoma’s martial-arts instructor (who takes no guff from A-list detectives).

It’s rather elementary: Young women yearning for an action heroine of their own get one with “Enola Holmes,” a problem-solving youngster we all could use more of in our streaming lives.

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