The Algorithm gods are upon us again. I mean, how else would you make sense of Murder Mystery 2 – a sequel to the mostly forgettable 2019 film directed by Kyle Newacheck? Sure, it’s one of the many projects that Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions will co-produce with Netflix as a part of their deal, but other than the incredible response of millions of views for the first film, there’s no way a second film could have seen the light of the day. But here we are with a sequel that surpasses the sluggish proceedings of the original (though the bar wasn’t set high in the first place), but with the same quality of vapid proceedings that don’t leave a trace.
Anyhow, Nick and Audrey, played by Sandler and Aniston, are no more the bickering but charming middle-aged couple who are somehow balancing their marriage with low economic stability, they are now a bickering but charming middle-aged couple who are somehow balancing their marriage with low economic stability and have, somehow, dived into the detective business as a full-time profession. The movie makes sure we acknowledge their last hurrah – the case they somehow solved in the first film, leading them to leave their old lives behind and take up the profession of sleuthing much more seriously.
While initially, they had a few breakthroughs, their professional and personal lives are now reaching saturation, and the two of them disagree on what they should be doing next to revamp their career. This is when Nick gets a call from his old friend Vik (a.k.a The Maharajah, played by Adele Akhtar), who offers them a full-expense paid invitation to his lavish wedding on a beautiful island. The Spitz jump at this opportunity to take a break from their lives and possibly do that honeymoon they never managed to have in the first place.
Moments later, they are at the lavish Indian wedding before murder and kidnapping ensues. The Spitz, who now have some kind of amateur level of deduction skills, thanks to a certain book that Audrey has been reading and Nick’s instincts, are onto the suspects. They claim that someone from the inner circle is behind the Maharajha’s abduction, but before they can proceed with their ripe case, Detective Miller (Mark Strong), who is also the author of the book that Audrey had been reading, is brought on to solve the case.
From being the case solvers to possible suspects, Miller’s instinct put the Spitz in a bracket for the time being. However, when the abductor and possible killer claim to have their full involvement in the exchange of The Maharajah for 70 million dollars, they are forced to tag along on a mumbling adventure that soon shifts to Paris.
Now, Murder Mystery 2 is not directed by Kyle Newacheck but by Jeremy Garlick (known for the 2015 ‘The Wedding Ringer’ and the 2020 Hulu Original ‘The Binge’). So, the sequel, for starters, feels more structured and not entirely all over the place. It has decent production values, and since director Garlick leans towards a more physical performance from Sandler and Aniston, the results are fairly better than the original film. The second act of the film, which mostly takes place in Paris, in particular, is really well done. The pointed and concurrent nature of the one chase sequence in a van really makes up for all the goofy nonsense that we are served otherwise.
However, that cannot take away from the fact that this is still a fairly predictable and forgettable mystery. There are times when the film feels like it wants to double down on the meta nature of such sequels that basically follows the same format of the original, but neither is the eat-the-rich subtext explored properly nor is the meta-ness squished out to really make a difference. This is also a film that features an impressive cast that includes the exceptional Mélanie Laurent & Jodie Turner-Smith, but with little to no help from the script that basically shuns them off as bystanders, you are left reeling for more.
So, the result is another possible hit on Netflix’s metrics that is 90 minutes of pure, unadulterated mediocrity, probably funnier in its blooper outtakes than what we eventually get. However, if you are an Adam Sandler and/or Jeniffer Aniston stan, you might find something to cherish here. If not for Aniston donning a Manisha Malhotra lehnga or Sandler shaking his booty to Bollywood music, you’ll be amused by how these long-time friends are so comfortable around one another.