Murder Mystery 2: whodunit? I couldn’t care less
Murder Mystery 2 is an object lesson in descending from mild enjoyment to none at all. I remember barely a flicker of its 2019 predecessor, a briefly popular slab of disposable content pairing Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston as husband-and-wife sleuths – imagine The Thin Man, but with gaudy Netflix production values.
Based on the company’s metric of at least two minutes being watched, it had the biggest opening weekend of the streaming giant’s history, regardless of whether a majority got distracted by pizza, switched over to I’m a Celebrity, or actually maintained interest in the wafer of plot and modest star chemistry on offer.
Anyway: here we go again. Nick (Sandler) and Audrey (Aniston) have parlayed their crime-solving into becoming lousy private detectives, until the destination island wedding for Nick’s friend Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar, trying not to cringe) presents them with another puzzle.
The groom is abducted, his head of security stabbed in the back, and only the top-table guests are in the frame as suspects. The kidnappers demand $70m, which for reasons best-known to the location scouts must be handed over at the Arc de Triomphe, cuing up the naffest cinematic postcard since the Olsen twins’ Passport to Paris (1999).
A whole load of explosive farce ensues, none of it funny. Mélanie Laurent has a non-role as Akhtar’s bride, largely correcting people’s French pronunciations. Mark Strong is a top-flight hostage negotiator who keeps making stupid knight moves in and out of the fracas. Sandler’s on autopilot, and even Aniston’s usual must-we-be-doing-this sangfroid deserts her: there’s a shiny tautness to her expressions, when we need her loosening up to have fun at this film’s expense.
Some flurries of surprisingly brutal close-quarters combat sit weirdly within the whole – we’re here for a snappily daft whodunit, not John Wick. Perhaps the lamest element of all is the actual detective work, for which blame falls on a screenplay that cheats itself silly, devising nonsensical ways to bring characters back from the dead, then taunting us with their bogus ingenuity.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery was, to me, wildly disappointing – because the culprit was plain thick, the superior intelligence of the film was overrated by itself. No one’s in danger of overrating Murder Mystery 2, or looking forward to a third one that might get the tone right. Franchise Bin, tout de suite.
No cert, 89 min. On Netflix now