Released: 30th April
Seen: 2nd May
About a year ago I did a review for a film called Secret Obsession which was basically Netflix picking up the scraps left over from a Lifetime all-you-can-eat-buffet and turning it into something meant to resemble a film. It wasn’t exactly good and you could kind of tell what network it was made for originally but I figured “Oh well, if Netflix does a Lifetime movie every now and then that could be entertaining. Sometimes those are campy enough for a laugh” and Netflix apparently heard me and decided to make an even blander wannabe lifetime movie… I’m so ready for 2020 to be over.
Dangerous Lies is about Katie (Camila Mendes) a young caregiver who spends her time looking after 88-year-old Leonard (Elliot Gould). Katie and her husband Adam (Jessie T. Usher) are struggling to make ends meet so Katie talks Leonard into hiring Adam to handle his garden so they would have some security. Then Leonard dies suddenly and leaves everything in his will to Katie who has to try and figure out what she’s going to do with her newfound inheritance while also dealing with the stress from the police and a few more dead bodies turning up right when she doesn’t want them to.
Now, if you have been keeping up with the movies of the last year you read that little plot description and went “Wait, did they rip off the plot of Knives Out?”. Well, dear reader, I promise you that they did not rip off Knives Out… Knives Out was a good movie that was worthy of the audience’s time. Dangerous Lies is what Ambien uses to fall asleep at night. It’s a small difference, but an important one.
As far as Dangerous Lies is concerned, the idea of dramatic tension, witty dialogue or interesting characters don’t actually matter. Why make an effort when we can walk through the motions that many other TV movies have before? Hell, the people who wrote and directed this movie have worked exclusively in TV movies and there’s a reason for that. Nothing here works, not a single solitary thing.
The acting is basic at best and there’s no chemistry between the leads, I barely believe they’re friends let alone a married couple. Everyone is kind of just phoning it in with the possible exception of Cam Gigandet who goes in the exact opposite direction with his evil real estate character who has a ‘secret’ that is revealed in the third act because the movie needs a final confrontation and being original or interesting would be too difficult. If characters aren’t blank canvases that look pretty, they’re cheesy and hammy in the worst ways… or it’s Elliot Gould who is at the point in his career where he can just turn up and everyone will go “Do whatever, you’re Elliot Gould, we’re aware that we’re lucky to have you”.
The plot is a fun mixture of basic and convoluted, which is hard to accomplish but Dangerous Lies found a way. See, it’s bland as hell for maybe an hour and then when the time comes for everything to go haywire, they throw in a bunch of bullshit that was never even really hinted at before and expect the audience to keep up with what the hell is going on. Dramatic reveals are one thing, actively going “Ahh, screw this, I want the story to be about bank robbers now!” is just pathetic
They change what the main driving force (if you can compare anything in this movie to driving, a thing that involves forward momentum) of the movie is several times. It starts off with the death of Leonard then it morphs into “Wait, there’s a bunch of money up in the attic, who would put that there” and before we can even do anything interesting with that (beyond buying two brand new phones still in their original packaging for literally no goddamn reason) then suddenly we find another dead body and a bunch of diamonds and THAT is the thing we’re meant to care about… and then just ignore the other two things because who goddamn cares?
Hell, we don’t even know for sure what happened to Leonard, they just guess and happen to find out that their guess was right because they get the bad guy to start monologuing and reveal everything… cos that’s not a trope so old that an animated film mocked it over a decade ago. I mean, a good film might have the police do an autopsy and find out that something was amiss and have that tension hang over the characters for a while but then you remember that we’re not watching a good movie so why the hell did I expect anything like that? Oh, because it’s a movie and there should probably be some dramatic tension in here somewhere? Because it’d be nice if anything about this movie was memorable beyond the final shot which is only memorable because… really, THAT’S where you hid the diamonds? REALLY?
The best I can say in this films defence it that it looked decent, some interesting camera angles and dolly shots that at least made it seem like someone was trying a little… keep in mind though, when I say “Well, the film looks decent” that I’ve sat through films that have visuals one could compare to a colonoscopy so my bar is just a little above “My eyes aren’t bleeding”.
Dangerous Lies is operating on the assumption that turning up is enough. It’s not, it’s lacking anything resembling substance, there’s nothing fun about it to enjoy even in a kitschy kind of way and it doesn’t even seem like it wants to try for ‘comically bad’, which would at least be an identity of its own. It’s just boring and I can’t wait to forget it in about 7 minutes. Just go watch Knives Out, it’s basically the same plot except done by people who gave a damn.