Murder Mystery 2 Review: Netflix Caper Sacrifices Comedy for Below-Average Thrills

The third time is usually a charm, right? Unfortunately, that's not quite the case for Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. The two beloved actors have starred in two rom-coms together: Just Go With It and Murder Mystery. Both films are harmless and fun, though never groundbreaking, leaning on the immense charm of their lead duo to keep audiences happy. This week, Sandler and Aniston team up for the third time in Netflix's Murder Mystery 2 and, while it's certainly the best looking movie they've starred in together, it's also the most forgettable. 

Murder Mystery 2 sees Nick (Sandler) and Audrey (Aniston) swept away to a private island getaway to celebrate the wedding of the Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), a friend they made during the events of the first film. When their pal is kidnapped and his bodyguard left dead on the dance floor, Nick and Audrey once again become prime suspects, and it's up to them to find out who really committed the crimes before more bodies start falling. 

The first Murder Mystery — a record-setter for Netflix — definitely feels like a discount Benoit Blanc tale, the film version of "we don't need to buy Agatha Christie, we have Agatha Christie at home." But the film manages to overcome its lack of an interesting caper by focusing on the immense talents of its two leads. Sandler and Aniston not only have great chemistry, they're both legendary screen comedians in their own right. Murder Mystery puts as much time into the relationship between Nick and Audrey as it does the mystery itself, allowing for a lot of small, very funny moments to shine through.

As sequels often do, Murder Mystery 2 goes a lot bigger than its predecessor. Between the private island, a vibrant Indian wedding, and the beauty of nighttime in Paris, the locations are much grander. The action set-pieces are a lot bigger, and even the supporting cast is filled with more recognizable faces (Mark Strong and Jodie-Turner Smith are the clear standouts). That being said, Murder Mystery 2 makes a very compelling case for why bigger isn't always better.

The focus on the action and a chase across Europe may sound exciting on paper, but it takes away from the partnership the film should've been about in the first place. There is so much less emphasis on Nick and Audrey and their personal story, which takes away from the small moments between Sandler and Aniston that provide all of the great moments of comedy in the first movie. There's a scene in Murder Mystery 2 in which the two of them argue over how much cheese Nick is eating, just before every member of the wedding party arrives at their room to figure out who the killer is. It's the perfect blend of comedy and tension, allowing Sandler and Aniston to do what they do best. It's also the only genuinely funny scene in the entire movie. 

Skipping the comedy in favor of the "mystery" wouldn't be too big of a crime if the story was remotely interesting, but it's just not. The twist isn't exciting, which is disappointing considering screenwriter James Vanderbilt delivered some wonderful third-act surprises in both of the recent Scream movies he co-wrote. The supporting characters are bland, despite a few inspired performances. You'll be hard-pressed to remember anything from the movie the day after watching it.

That's a shame, too, because some serious money and effort were put into the technical side of Murder Mystery 2. A lot of this was shot on location and looks better than the majority of films out there trying to make a green screen pass for Paris, France. The action scenes are well-choreographed and competently shot. For all intents and purposes, Murder Mystery 2 looks better than most of Netflix's output, it's just unfortunate that technical prowess is wasted on a below-average story.

While Murder Mystery 2 isn't a very good movie, I wouldn't necessarily call it "bad," either. There are some great performances hidden in here and the production value alone is enough to keep it from being a disaster. It's not enough, however, to make it memorable. I'd much rather see an interesting, outlandish bad movie than a totally forgettable, average one. Sadly, Murder Mystery 2 is the latter.

Rating: 2 out of 5