DANGEROUS LIES (2020)

Dangerous Lies.jpg

Studio:      Netflix
Director:    Michael M. Scott
Writer:      David Golden
Producer:  Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston
Stars:     Camila Mendes, Jessie T. Usher, Jamie Chung, Cam Gigandet, Sasha Alexander, Elliott Gould

Review Score:

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Summary:

A struggling young couple becomes embroiled in a mystery of deceit, murder, and money when they unexpectedly inherit a wealthy man¡¯s property.


Synopsis:     

Review:

¡°Dangerous Lies¡± sounds like the title of a sexy theatrical thriller that might have been titillating during Sharon Stone¡¯s ¡°Basic Instinct¡± heyday. Or at least like a straight-to-VHS knockoff starring someone from ¡°Baywatch¡± and a low-rung Baldwin brother.

It¡¯s neither of those things, of course. It¡¯s another mushy potato in Netflix¡¯s overflowing pit of expired produce that was never fresh to begin with.

Struggling no more than any average pairing of people, life seemed to be going well enough for Katie and her husband Adam. She was a diner waitress. He was a grad student. Not exactly royals ready for Camelot. Yet they lived in a pretty posh place for Southside Chicago and the lights of love in their eyes signaled a bright future ahead.

Then a robber murdered a busboy and terrified Katie until Adam took down the attacker. Despite Adam being hailed as a hero and the two of them emerging unharmed, everything went downhill after that. Among the many things the movie doesn¡¯t have an answer for is exactly how their situation became so bad so fast. But Adam dropped out of school, Katie switched gigs to become an in-home caregiver, and the constantly bickering lovebirds are drowning in debt they apparently didn¡¯t have four months ago in the prologue.

Leonard, the wealthy old man Katie works for, amusingly insists, ¡°a young couple starting out shouldn¡¯t have to worry about money.¡± Really, Leonard? What else do a young husband and wife have to worry about?

Anyway, Leonard lends two helping hands by giving Adam a job and Katie a $7,000 bonus. This inadvertently plants the first two seeds of suspicion because the day after cashing her check, Katie finds Leonard dead. Katie can¡¯t call 911 yet because Adam also found $100,000 in cash hidden in an old trunk barely sixty seconds later. Now the two of them have to solve the dilemma of what to do about the money as well as the dead body.

They do the right thing by calling the coroner regarding Leonard while quietly keeping the cash for themselves. Trouble is, there¡¯s a mysterious man secretly skulking around who might know about the missing moolah. After a lawyer appears from thin air to produce a will no one knew existed, the situation grows stranger. Turns out Leonard left his estate to Katie. These dots suggest to an investigating detective that an intricate conspiracy of duplicitous agendas and murderous motives may be afoot. Are Katie and Adam involved, or could it be one or both of the only other two people in play?

In an alternate timeline, the tap water tepidness of ¡°Dangerous Lies¡± would have been fit for a Valerie Bertinelli vehicle on the CBS Wednesday Night Movie. Arriving 35 years after its made-for-TV formula had already flatlined, ¡°Dangerous Lies¡± instead aligns with the aesthetics of a modern CW melodrama on sedated steroids. This means the film features neon Gotham color schemes for nighttime exteriors, frequent needle drops from nondescript broken heart songs, and camera-friendly faces like that of ¡°Riverdale¡± star Camila Mendes.

It also means your bingo card better have spaces for plenty of textbook thriller tropes. Anything mildly imaginative, unpredictable, or otherwise out of the ordinary will never see a stamp, leaving ¡°Dangerous Lies¡± to take the title as the next disposable champion of entry level entertainment.

A secret stash of stolen diamonds. Someone dying from an accidental fall down a staircase. ¡°Dangerous Lies¡± loads up on rote plot beats like it read one noir novel from 1950 and simply transposed the most common elements to a contemporary setting.

It¡¯s almost too close to call which red herring or minor misdirect hits the dullest dead end. I¡¯m going with the speedily forgotten mention of an unidentified lost love for Leonard. Her possible involvement in Leonard¡¯s past gets hilariously highlighted by a keepsake newspaper clipping plainly titled ¡°Chicago Woman Killed in Car Accident.¡± Apparently a common person killed in an everyday occurrence is so rare for a major metropolitan city, her death earned a front-page headline with an above-the-fold photo too.

Until the climax, the film¡¯s biggest beat of action comes from someone accidentally triggering a mousetrap, not even a rattrap, for a cheap jolt to make sure viewers aren¡¯t asleep yet. It¡¯s easy to feel narcoleptic though. The rest of the movie¡¯s supposed suspense hides inside inert events like stalkers staring into side view mirrors, people shooting shifty looks, instigating intimidation, or vaguely threatening someone through cryptic confrontations.

The conclusion hits so many ludicrous lowlights of serendipitous arrivals with ridiculous reveals, it almost has to be seen for its outrageous absurdity to be believed. Don¡¯t take that as a recommendation to actually see ¡°Dangerous Lies.¡± I¡¯m only scoring the film with a ¡°well, whatever¡± 50/100 because it is too blandly innocuous to inspire an outright negative reaction.

I wouldn¡¯t argue with someone wanting to rate it lower however. I couldn¡¯t argue anyway. By the time you read this, I will have long since forgotten everything there is to this movie.

Review Score: 50