at least it’s better than the first one

When Adam Sandler said he’d make a movie “so badly aimed” if he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Uncut James, was he talking about his Netflix collaboration? Here I thought things couldn’t get any worse than Jack and Jill – at least it gave us Duncasino! — but most of Sandler’s Netflix movies have missed (I will give to push Way). The 2019 murder mystery was a forgettable murder mystery that gave them a chance to team up Jennifer Aniston again after 2011’s Just Go With It. Somehow, that movie got a sequel greenlight, and in a more surprising twist than anything in Murder Mystery 2, it’s actually a huge step up from its predecessor, which probably isn’t saying much. As they say, maybe it’s time to leave when you’re ahead.

Nick (Sandler) and Audrey (Aniston) Spitz try to capitalize on their success after solving a murder case from the first murder mystery film. They’ve apparently maxed out every credit card to open a private eye business, but their work as private investigators is mediocre, which only puts further strain on their marriage. But as Nick points out, Does Any Couple That Works Out Together Work?

Courtesy of Netflix A scene from Murder Mystery 2

Out of the blue, Nick and Audrey receive a wedding invitation from an old friend, The Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar), who you may remember from the first film (I only remember this partially because I haven’t started the second film). having just completed the first film) … He is marrying Claudette (Melanie Laurent), and Spitz sees this as an opportunity to recharge amid the blunders of his personal eyes.

But as the previous film showed us and this sequel is only too keen to remind you, any of Spitz’s journeys ends in a murder. When someone at the wedding is murdered and the Maharaja is kidnapped, it’s up to Nick and Audrey to solve the case once again, while being framed for the murders once again. Familiar?

The expression “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” often rings true, but in the case of Murder Mystery, why wouldn’t you want to change the story a bit? Maybe it’s because of James Vanderbilt returning as the film’s scribe — it’s hard to believe the same guy wrote Zodiac and the recent Scream sequel as well as two murder mystery movies that were self-titled. The references were outside the obvious choice of genre films. The Scream movies were built on referencing slasher films of the past, and while the first murder mystery constantly hits you over the head with references to Agatha Christie’s works and adjacent literature, Vanderbilt has learned that one size doesn’t fit all, Thank God . , as there are very few verbal references and namedrops to other whodunits. And I know why he wants to be involved – the franchise is his child in a sense – but following the same pattern with minimal changes outside of replacing the Danny Boone character – who appears here – with Mark Strong, who Never been less busy with a role (which says a lot since he was in Shazam!)

To be fair, no one really stands out in the cast. Sandler and Aniston seem like sweet friends on press tours, but hardly anything about their relationship seems believable. Their “chemistry” is only passed off by their innate ability to play middle-class people and the likes of the two – especially Sandler. Granted, that’s the name of the sport she’s mastered in her career.

Zurin Villanueva, Jodie Turner-Smith, Kuhu Verma, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Strong, Adam Sandler, Enrique Arce, Murder Mystery 2
A scene from Murder Mystery 2, courtesy of Netflix.

While none here are as engaging as Luke Evans’ Charles Cavendish or the much-needed comic relief that Akhtar was in Murder Mystery (partly due to the latter being the “damsel in distress” in the film), Murder Mystery 2’s The ensemble still completely outshines the first film. As you’d expect, the rest of the ensemble cast is filled out by the prime suspects in the case, including the Maharajah’s sister Saira (Kuhu Varma), Countess Sekou (Jodie Turner-Smith), Countess Sekou’s right-hand woman Imani (Zurin Villanueva) Is. ), Colonel Ulenga (John Kani), and the Audrey-obsessed Francisco (Enrique Arce).

And it all goes back to the script, which feels a bit out of touch with reality, like a dad trying to use TikTok lingo with his teen. After Sandler said things like, “Why couldn’t they get Venmo?” (Yes, that was an actual line of dialogue.) Murder Mystery 2 often feels desperate for acknowledgement, whether in response to holding a heavy briefcase during a hostage handover or the ever-so-subtle reference to Spitz sitting on the Orient Express train. I get it – the movie is just trying to fit in; Can’t we do it in a way that doesn’t make anyone under the age of 25 bat an eye? I would give credit to Vanderbilt for their consent”Au Revoir, Shoshana!A bit from Inglourious Basterds.

There’s also the issue of crossing the line between a PG-13 and an R rating. Vanderbilt does his best to throw in a few lines for the watching adults, but the humor in Murder Mystery 2 is pretty much the kind of on-the-nose risque humor you’d expect from mid-2010 Sandler. I’m not being rude – it’s weird to have Spencer repeatedly about handcuffs and then a moment later have gross-out humor.

Jodi Turner-Smith, Enrique Arce, Melanie Laurent, John Kani, Kuhu Verma, Murder Mystery 2
A scene from Murder Mystery 2, courtesy of Netflix.

And yet, Murder Mystery 2 belies the fact that it’s bigger than its predecessor. I’m generally a believer that bigger isn’t always better, but there are exceptions. Just as the John Wick movies have gotten bigger and bigger with each installment, Murder Mystery 2 doubles down on the action – sometimes to a fault – and spectacle while also building on the groundwork laid by its predecessor. Yes, there’s a car chase (it blows the last one out of the water), and yes, they galavant through an under-utilized European city (and it’s not just because of the novelty of John Wick. : Chapter 4’s Use of Paris), but there is more glitz all around in Murder Mystery 2 than in the first film which is clear from the start.

There is no greater example of this than a job like cinematography below. Unlike the first film, which was relatively static and dull, the camera actually moves around a bit and Murder Mystery 2 has some personality. Bojan Bajeli took over as DP from Amir Mokri, and this is the most notable change from the first to the second film. Film. That’s exactly what editing Tom Kosten returned to (presumably, Kosten’s longtime editing partner, Brian M. Robinson, is officially listed as an editor this time around, and the two men worked on several Sandler projects together). have done). Don’t get me wrong, Murder Mystery 2 still has its fair share of abrupt cuts, nothing quite as jarring as the first film.

Should You Stream Murder Mystery 2?

I’m not going to say that Murder Mystery 2 is a must-see movie, but at least it’s an improvement over its predecessor. It’s really hard not to like Sandler and Aniston, and there are some action sequences that actually look like action sequences that somehow put The Gray Man to shame. So if you liked the first, I recommend the second. If you like or have respect for the whodunnit genre, that’s a different story. Plus, it’s a 79-minute movie without credits. All that said, why not end this franchise on a high note instead of expanding it? You run the risk of running into wacky bits already in the ground. But in an age of sequels, prequels, and “requests,” a murder mystery 3 would be both a surprising and nostalgic choice and leave audiences with a case that not even Spitz would be able to solve: Why?

Grade: C+

Murder Mystery 2 will be available to stream on Netflix on March 31.

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