Movie Review: Dangerous Lies
Dangerous Lies is about young couple, Katie and Adam, who have fallen on hard financial times. Katie is a caregiver for an elderly man, Leonard, who dies suddenly and a will appears, naming Katie sole heir of all of Leonard's assets. Of course, this windfall comes with some big baggage as Katie and Adam's lives unfurl around them. It stars Camila Mendes, Jessie T. Usher, Cam Gigandet, Michael P. Northey, Sasha Alexander, Jamie Chung, and Elliott Gould. It is directed by Michael M. Scott and written by David Golden. It is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
I was pretty disappointed by Dangerous Lies. It's because Dangerous Lies is not particularly interesting. Made by two filmmakers who have careers making basic cable holiday movies. They specialize in a certain type of comfort and when they try and translate that formula into a thriller, it's anything but. It has all the panache of a crime procedural, but none of the urgency. This could have made an interesting 45 minute episode of television, but it can't hold attention for its full 90+ minute runtime.
I have a feeling these filmmakers come in early and under budget. The performances read like they were the first take. The actors said the words correctly with some inflection as to their intended emotion, but for the most part all the performances are flat and shallow. I didn't believe any performance and caught myself laughing out loud at times I shouldn't have. They're all competent performers, but this comes down to direction. Michael M. Scott seemingly has no wish to elevate the script beyond the page.
That's not to say that the script has any nuance either. David Golden's script is a mishmash of cheesy noir, attempted thrills, and vapid, unbelievable melodrama. What is the absolute worst, though is that Golden made Katie intelligent enough to question everything that's going wrong, but so boneheaded about Adam that she lets him get his way every single time. She literally says everything right and lets herself get talked out of it without hesitation, bringing it up in tepid fights later on when they start accusing each other of subterfuge.
The characters all have these wonky motivations. The film is definitely a hodge podge of ideas from multiple sources in an attempt to keep the script interesting. Did this film need a diamond heist subplot? Did this film need its opening robbery scene? There are so many bits of plot where I can tell Golden wanted us to gasp and say, "He's in on it? She was lying?" but they're so obvious and tiresome that it's a relief when they come so the characters can finally move on to where the audience has been the entire time.
I was initially interested in Dangerous Lies because of its opening shot. Cinematographer Ronald Richard really went for it with this film. That opening shot, an obvious homage to Goodfellas and other similar tracking shots, is completely different from the movie we get, though. The opening shot has a much more interesting vibe and wants to challenge us. Yet, as a hook, it's all sizzle and no steak.
Don't bother with this film. It's a pale imitation of so many that have come before. I'm surprised that Netflix, which wants so desperately to be in the prestige business of film and television, would green-light so obvious a drama with no teeth. I guess if your objective is to please all of the people all of the time, you're going to find some people who can't see right through this boring thriller.