Director: Kyle Newacheck
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, Gemma Arterton, Adeel Akhtar, Dany Boon
Watch Murder Mystery online in the UK: Netflix UK
“The butler did it,” interrupts Nick Spitz (Adam Sandler), as his wife, Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) tries to read her whodunnit novel in peace. They’re on the plane to Europe for an anniversary treat – a present that was a surprise to Nick as well as his wife, after she complains (correctly) that he’s probably just bought her an Amazon.com gift card. It’s safe to say that marital bliss didn’t check into the flight with them.
Audrey’s excited, then, when she sneaks into first class and winds up sharing a drink with Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), a suave heir to a wealthy empire who doesn’t hesitate to invite them to his yacht for some drinks. Aboard the boat, though, things go wrong, as his father, Malcolm Quince (Terence Stamp), announces to gathered family members that he’s disinheriting the lot of them in favour of his new ski instructor wife (Shioli Kutsuna). The lights go off, followed by a gun, and Malcolm’s body promptly appears dead on the floor. Quicker than you can say “j’accuse”, Nick and Audrey are labelled prime candidates for concocting the whole thing.
What follows is, essentially, a sequel to Clue, as our couple try to prove their innocence and solve the whodunit – a case that’s populated by a host of eccentric characters all vying to appear the guiltiest. There’s Victor Turpin as fast-talking F1 driver Lorenzo, John Kani as an intimidating Colonel, Gemma Arterton as a self-obsessed movie star and Adeel Akhtar as a vapid Maharajah. Each one is enjoying the chance to ham things up, with Arterton and Akhtar particularly making an impression. Evans, meanwhile, has got rich-and-sinister down cold, twinkling with charisma and unspoken ulterior motives. And, in between each encounter with the unusual suspects, up pops a French inspector (Dany Boon), determined to find evidence to put the Spitzes behind bars.
The result is as predictable as Sandler’s quip at the beginning – including a bit where someone climbs out of a hotel window – but the supporting cast are diverting enough to keep things entertaining, and director Kyle Newacheck (Game Over, Man!) puts together some lively set pieces, most notably a sequence in a library. If the script from James Vanderbilt (Zodiac and White House Down) isn’t exactly original, and several jokes miss their mark, he makes up for it by giving Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston a chance to click – and click they do, reuniting on screen to play a bored husband and wive with believable jibes and grudging affection. Sandler’s schtick is a familiar fit for his loser of a character, but Aniston is the real star, making her panicked, naive, dissatisfied and smart murder mystery fan more rounded than the movie deserves. Her entertaining performance powers the whole affair – not just in terms of exposition – and makes for a unexpectedly diverting, if unmemorable, piece of pulp fiction. Don’t be surprised when Netflix orders a sequel; do be surprised that you’d look forward to it.
Murder Mystery is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.