An unlikely detective couple return for what is turning out to be a most unlikely franchise. Nick and Audrey Spitz, the American husband-wife pair from Brooklyn who stumbled their way into a plague of deaths during a vacation in the Netflix film Murder Mystery (2019), are back for a second round. As before, screwball comedy, well-oiled repartee between the leads and vicarious tourism are on the cards.
Nick (Adam Sandler) has stopped pretending to be a police officer and has set up a detective agency with Audrey (Jennifer Aniston). But with business cards that declare “First floss then Spitz – we catch bad guys”, it’s little wonder that they are practically unemployed.
Another luxury sojourn comes to their rescue, this time from one of their fellow adventurers from the previous movie. Vikram (Adeel Akhtar), the Indian royal with a British accent, is getting married to Claudette (Melanie Laurent). Ulenga (John Kani), the unformed ex-colonel also from the previous edition, is around to keep his one good eye on the proceedings.
The Spitzes are barely getting into the typically extravagant Indian wedding, which features an elephant and synchronised dancing to Hindi film songs (Chamma Chamma, Ghungroo), when Vikram is kidnapped. The suspects include Claudette, Nick’s business partner Francisco (Enrique Arce), Vikram’s sister Saira (Kuhoo Verma), Nick’s ex Countess Sekou (Jodie Turner-Smith) and her sidekick Imani (Zurin Villaneuva).
Miller (Mark Strong), the man who wrote the detective manual that the Spitzes have been attempting to commit to memory, swoops in – or rather emerges from the waters at the luxury resort. James Vanderbilt, who also wrote the previous film, and director Jeremy Galerick are less generous with the random comedy, but they have mercifully retained the focus on grand entrances followed by pratfalls.
Events switch to Paris, where, in between ransom negotiations, a meet-up with Lacroix (the third returnee from the 2019 movie, played by Dany Boon) and more improvisational detective work, Nick and Audrey crack the case.
At 90 minutes, Murder Mystery 2 is even crisper than its predecessor. Some of the anarchic comedy has been lost in the streamlining, as has also the insistence on taking nothing seriously, least of all the loss of lives.
It’s still enjoyably silly, bumbling along on the strength of the excellently matched leads and the knowledge that just because a film has “murder” and “mystery” in its title doesn’t mean it has to deliver on the mystery part. Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston are a brawn-and-brain match made in heaven, and every one of the cast members participates amiably in tomfoolery. But whenever Nick and Audrey reappear – and reappear they will – they will need to solve the biggest mystery of all time: how to keep a franchise that thrives on sending up everything we hold dear in the genre from being predictable?