Dangerous Lies (2020)
I hate this film.
Well, that's it. 0/5. Don't watch it.
I'm joking, but please know, the above sentences, will be the only joke hidden within this review. Most of the time, I have no issues threading some of my humour through my analysis. Occasionally, a really good film comes along, and I feel a sense of guilt in penning any kind of jovial response. Then, on a rare occasion, a film comes along that I hate so much, that I am filled so deeply with salt, that no jokes are possible. This is one of those times.
Spoilers ahead. I am not responsible for the uncontrolled rants that will follow.
This film basically follows the story of Katie (Camila Mendes) and, to a lesser extent, her partner, Adam (Jesse T. Usher). We start in a diner, where Katie is a waitress, and it soon becomes apparent that the man studying "contemporary sociological theory" in the booth, is actually her husband. But that's not the twist in this film (we'll get to the twists later). Anyway, long story short, the diner is held up, but Adam saves the day!
And we know that it's four months later, not just because of the convenient title card that proclaims it, but also because of some of the stellar dialogue. "Babe, it's been four months," Adam says, when Katie reminds him what he did in the diner, four months earlier. And, more bizarrely, when Leonard reminds Katie how long she's been working for him: "...today's our anniversary. Yes...four months ago today, the agency sent you to my door. My new caretaker, companion and friend". All I can say is, I'm critically disappointed that none of my bosses have ever celebrated my four month anniversary of employment with them. This must be an American tradition.
Anyway, Katie and Adam are having MONEY PROBLEMS. This is evident every time they're on screen because they discuss their MONEY PROBLEMS a lot. It seems that the only thing that they ever talk about is MONEY PROBLEMS. Which doesn't surprise me, because they are a young couple, but also because, Adam says things like, "It doesn't do us any good for me to take some minimum wage job. That's why I quit school, so that I could find something that pays enough...we can start chipping away at our debt". Adam's logic, has me like the confused Maths lady meme.
No money = better than some money, but not better than more money.
Anyway, after all this talk about MONEY, Katie is stressed about MONEY, so she decides to de-stress on her employer's front porch (as you do). He of course catches her out there, and offers her MONEY, which she declines. Instead, she accepts his offer to hire her husband as a gardener...on not a minimum wage? Is it too much if I include confused Maths lady more than once? I'm going to refer to her as Appendix A. See Appendix A.
Anyway, everything seems to be travelling well for a bit. But then Leonard dies. Sad news. He dies in a chair in his attic, holding a key in his hand. Oooh, interesting I hear you remark. No, not interesting. It unlocks a padlock (that's already unlocked by the way), on a treasure chest, four metres from the dead body. So they open the already unlocked treasure chest, without using the aforementioned key, and they find pictures of Leonard inside with a woman. Adam is concerned. Katie told him that Leonard never married and that he has no family. WHAT CAN THIS MEAN? Don't ask that question, you'll be sorely disappointed, as these pictures are never discussed again. Anyway, underneath all of the red-herring-pictures-never-to-be-discussed-again, is close to $100,000... Unemployed-Adam obviously wants to take the MONEY to fix the MONEY PROBLEMS. Working-three-jobs-Katie, thinks it's the wrong thing to do. Eventually she concedes that they can take the MONEY, as long as they are "careful". Then they call the police to finally come and look at poor, bloody Leonard, who is still in the corner.
Flashforward: A few days later!
Katie is getting ready for work, and then this interchange happens...
ADAM: Where are you going?
KATIE: I have to talk to Mr. Calvern to get my name back on the list.
ADAM: What list?
KATIE: At the agency. Another position.
KATIE: Because that's what I should do, now that I don't have a job.
How come Adam always seems to have so much difficulty wrapping his head around what a job is and why you should have one? Also, is it just me, or is this dialogue just weird and unnecessary. I believe its purpose is purely to make Adam seem sketchy, but honestly, to me, they both just seem like idiots who got married before they knew each other well enough to make such a commitment to a person with such different ideals.
Anyway, once at the agency, Katie is informed by Mr. Calvern that she can't get another placement, because she's under investigation for her former employer's death. #standardprocedure Katie is flabbergasted by standard procedure. She goes to chat to Adam about this development and finds him unconscious in the lobby of Leonard's house. He'd been counting Leonard's treasure chest money, WHICH THEY NEVER TOOK! Why did you allow the police to come to the house and look at the body before you "carefully" took the money? Eugh...see Appendix A.
Anyway, whilst counting, Adam heard a strange noise. So he decided to go down and confront whoever it was and lo and behold, he took a knock to the back of the head. So yeah, Katie finds him in this state. Rather than "carefully" exiting the premises to avoid breaking the law further and/or attacks by masked assailants, Katie and Adam sit in Leonard's house, discussing their MONEY PROBLEMS, and Katie gets cranky at Adam for breaking his promise to be "careful". Cut to the next scene where the couple hide the treasure chest money in a safety deposit box. I'm starting to think that Katie's definition of "careful" may fall into a similar category as Vizzini's definition of "inconceivable".
Anyway, the police agree to allow Katie to cremate the body, as it's what "Leonard wanted" and there are no other living relatives and no will to speak of. ...I'm not sure that's how things work... Anyway, SURPRISE! Leonard's lawyer shows up at the wake with a will that leaves everything to Katie. Katie and Adam move into the house. Yay! Now they have MONEY, so they decide to have more conversations about MONEY. Except they aren't conversations, they simply talk their conflicting ideals about MONEY at each other, with neither one actually responding to the other's statements.
ADAM: We need to take a vacation for a month! Just first class all the way.
KATIE: You'll get your MBA before you know it; find a great job.
ADAM: That piece of junk that we drive...
KATIE: We can pay off everything! Credit cards! Loans! Just wipe the slate clean.
ADAM: You know we should go right now, both of us, just go get brand new cars.
Yes, David Golden. We get it. These two should never have married. They have conflicting ideas on MONEY. They are yet to master the art of conversation.
Anyway, this review has turned into a recap that is already a five minute read, and we haven't even gotten to the halfway point of this film. So let me give you some highlights, before I ruin the ending (which I am definitely going to do, so if you want to watch this thing, leave now):
1. After moving in, Katie and Adam find the dead body of an old gardener on the property, with a stash of diamonds. Katie wants to tell the police. Adam wants to take the diamonds and hide the body. Adam convinces Katie he'll be "careful". He isn't careful enough...
2. The police begin to suspect Adam for the murder of Leonard, but they need to find a MOTIVE. What could a reasonable motive possibly be for killing a rich 88-year-old man with no living relatives? ...Baffling...(Appendix A).
2. Mr. Calvern sneaks into their new house in the middle of the night. Adam startles him. He falls backwards down the stairs and dies. Why did this happen? No idea...more red herrings maybe?
3. Towards the end of the film, Special Agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander), the detective assigned to Leonard's case, sits down with Katie to discuss Adam's sketchiness. Todd is exasperated, "I don't even have a body," she says, "I can't even prove that he didn't die a natural death." ...Why didn't you take care of this before you approved the cremation of Leonard's body by a non-family member/employee of four months? (See Appendix A). Side note: Gibbs is disappointed.
4. There's this whole other thing with a fake real estate agent trying to get the diamonds. Long story short, he and Adam shoot each other and with Adam's dying breath, he says to Katie, "THE GARDEN," in a very loud, clear stage whisper.
And I'm starting to think that there's some kind of sequel to the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch on this set, and therefore all cast and crew in this production can only count in fours...I digress.
The ending is the most hated moment of this entire film. Special Agent Cate Todd comes around to chat to Katie about how the case has been officially closed and Adam's name has been left out of it, so Katie's unborn child (yeah, she's pregnant now) will grow up not knowing about its father's "criminal history". I'm sorry...(Appendix A). Cate...when was it established that you owe this woman a favour? She aided and abetted in multiple crimes. She stole $100,000. She broke into Leonard's house after he died. She lied to the police (multiple times). She agreed to let her husband hide a body. YOU DON'T OWE HER ANYTHING. SHE IS ALSO A CRIMINAL. Anyway, Cate's all like, "Lol, isn't it funny that we never found the diamonds? We searched this place like, so many times. Weird". And Katie's all like, "Yeah, so weird. Anyway, good-bye!".
This has me thinking, Katie...you sly sausage...you've got the diamonds, and you know how to avoid MONEY PROBLEMS, so you'll hold onto them until your kid's in college and you'll use them to make sure they have a good life.
Katie has no idea where the diamonds are, because immediately after this conversation, she turns on a sprinkler, and a light drizzle of water causes erosion, unveiling the diamonds at the base of a tree in the garden. (Appendix A). Has it not rained in four months? Did she misconstrue the meaning of Adam's very loud last words? Perhaps she thought "the garden" was a reference to their wedding song, by Savage Garden. Is Adam incapable of digging a hole? Like, he can plant a tree, because he was employed as a gardener, but can he not bury a small parcel of diamonds?
I hate this film. It's not even "so bad it's good". It's a murder mystery script, that probably didn't catch a single proofread. The dialogue is cringeworthy at times, the logical twists are predictable (I'm not counting the diamond reveal - that is just stupid) and the laborious MONEY discussions are laborious. Do yourself a favour, if you want to watch a recently released Netflix Original, watch Extraction instead.
P.S. Sorry, I broke all my promises. I promised a review with salt. I delivered a recap addled with jokes. My bad.