Adam Sandler is almost like his own genre. He has made millions on making objectively terrible films, but his brand is so spot-on and audience-friendly that no one can seem to resist it. Which is presumably how I’m writing and you’re reading about Murder Mystery 2.
2019’s Murder Mystery was a painfully mediocre, at times excruciatingly dull and stupid and convoluted murder mystery. While it technically did what it said on the tin, there was a lot left to be desired, not least in the chemistry between Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler. But of course, a sequel was inevitable.
Nick (Sandler) and Audrey (Aniston) now have their own detective agency. Working together is putting a strain on their marriage, so when their friend Vikram (Adeel Akhtar) invites the couple to his lavish wedding to Claudette (Mélanie Laurent), they jump at the chance of a luxurious getaway.
Vikram is kidnapped during the wedding and the suspects include Vikram’s sister (Kuhoo Verma), Claudette and the mysterious Countess (Jodie Turner-Smith). Nick and Audrey are whisked away to Paris to hopefully rescue the Maharajah. They’re aided by Mark Strong’s caricaturish detective Miller, who is basically everything Nick has ever wanted to be.
It seems at first that Murder Mystery 2 has something poignant to say about marriage and work; what happens when you work and live with your spouse? What does that do to a marriage? Unfortunately, these questions are quickly forgotten and replaced by, among other things, a shocking bad CGI elephant and a bad gag about cheese.
The film’s runtime just about reaches 80 minutes (90-ish minutes if you count the credits), but it’s so over-stuffed with ideas and different tones, it’s enough to give you motion sickness. This is the rare occasion I wish a film was longer to flesh out all those ideas, but then again, I wouldn’t want to sit through any more of Murder Mystery 2, a film that constantly seems to be talking down to its audience.
While Sandler and Aniston seem to have perfect comedic timing individually, there’s just no spark between them. Sandler especially seems to lack any charisma, any presence that he used to have. Instead, he’s monotone and limp here as Nick. Despite giving a career-best performance in Uncut Gems just a few years ago, Sandler seems to have completely given up.
James Vanderbilt’s script lacks jokes. The film’s best sequence is set in a van with a bunch o f bad guys and Nick and Audrey. The sequence is the perfect combination of action and humour, but no other scene manages to reach the euphoric highs of this scene. The plot is generic and predictable; it doesn’t take that many brain cells to guess where it’s all going but the thrill of these films should always be the element of surprise.
Murder mysteries seem particularly popular right now, but when you compare Murder Mystery 2 to the intelligence of Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion or to the searing wit of See How They Run, you truly realise how far this apple has fallen from the murder mystery tree.
Murder Mystery 2 should have been much better with such a starry, talented cast. Jodie Turner-Smith is clearly enjoying herself as is Mark Strong but no one else makes an impression. Jeremy Garelick’s direction is dull and unexciting and, paired with bad CGI and green screen locations, Murder Mystery 2 is one of the worst films we’ll see this year.
Murder Mystery 2 is streaming now.