Murder Mystery was released in 2019 and, according to Netflix’s own reporting, was a smash hit. This solidified Adam Sandler’s relationship with the streaming company; he would later sign a new development deal with them. With more movies to come, Netflix is banking on two things, Sandler’s undeniable star power and his ability to make semi-entertaining movies with all-star casts. Murder Mystery 2 is entirely built on these two principles, and if audiences enjoyed Murder Mystery, they will get more of the same with its sequel and nothing else.
Murder Mystery 2 follows Nick (Sandler) and Audrey Spitz (Jennifer Aniston), the unlikely mystery-solving couple from New York. After solving the murder of billionaire Malcolm Quince (Terence Stamp), Nick and Audrey return to everyday life as newly licensed private investigators. The former police officer and hairdresser enjoy the thrill of solving a crime, and little do they know that they will be roped into an assassination attempt. The couple remained friends with the Maharajah, who has invited them to his destination wedding in Hawaii. He is to wed French model Claudette Joubert (Mélanie Laurent) and has invited his board of directors and “close” friends to attend as well. The guest list includes Countess Sekou (Jodie Turner-Smith), the Maharajah’s former fiancée; Saira (Kuhoo Verma), the Maharajah’s antisocial sister; Francisco Perez (Enrique Arce), a famous soccer player; Colonel Ulenga (John Kanu), the Maharajah’s longtime bodyguard; and Imani (Zurin Villanueva), the countess’ giggly personal assistant. As the extravagant wedding commences, a murder occurs, and the Maharajah is kidnapped. With an expert MI6 hostage negotiator on the case and a suspicious pool of guests in tow, Nick and Audrey need to do everything possible to save their friend and clear their names.
Murder Mystery 2 has little going for it. Sandler’s recent flicks have dropped in quality compared to his work in the 1990s and early aughts. Except for the beautiful locales and occasionally fun casting choices, films from Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison, are nothing more than amusing little trifles. If one is coming off the high that is Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion, and expecting another fun ensemble-led murder mystery to keep one on their toes, then Murder Mystery 2 is not the movie to seek out. If one wants to enjoy a feature with Sandler and Aniston playing versions of characters they’ve played before with minimal effort, then one will be treated to exactly that.
Jeremy Garelick competently directs the film, but his choices are not particularly inventive or clever. However, that’s nothing to worry about when James Vanderbilt’s script lacks sufficient jokes, a decent mystery, and interesting character dynamics. The core problem is that the characters are nowhere near as interesting as they are on paper and have little to do during the actual mystery. This is the Nick and Audrey show. With the exception of Adeel Akhtar’s Maharajah, who is missing for most of the film’s runtime, none of the cast is given any material that would even warrant a soft chuckle.
John Kani’s Col. Ulenga only exists for jokes about his missing limbs. Mélanie Laurent’s Claudette is the bland love interest that might as well have been the victim since she is neither a compelling suspect nor particularly sympathetic as the worried love interest. Mark Strong, who has shown that he can be funny, is utterly wasted. Jodie Turner-Smith simply exists to be beautiful and snotty. There is no character work, and the stakes are meaningless. With that being the case, the audience doesn’t get the sense of how close Nick and Audrey are to the Maharajah.
A common criticism of the first movie was that it was generic and mediocre. The sequel is no better, but there is something to be said about the millions of people who tuned in. Assuming Netflix didn’t muddle the truth, Murder Mystery did appeal to many people, especially those who are fans of Sandler and Aniston. While Sandler feels like he is sleepwalking through the whole ordeal, Aniston does shine and is effortlessly charming and entertaining. Murder Mystery 2 is worth a watch if one cares to see these two in action, and with how little is done to craft a compelling mystery that is also funny, the duo is left to do their shtick. But if one is wanting something substantive, with big laughs and surprising twists, Murder Mystery 2 should be avoided at all costs.
Murder Mystery 2 is now available to stream on Netflix. The film is 89 minutes long and rated PG-13 for violence, bloody images, strong language, suggestive material and smoking.