CHENNAI: Murder mysteries and thrillers have been with us ever since the Lumiere Brothers discovered how to push pictures into motion and movement. Agatha Christie’s whodunits and Alfred Hitchcock’s crime capers have kept us at the edge of our seats and our hearts thumping in anticipation of the next scene. In recent times, Rian Johnson's “Knives Out,” which ran close to a Christie adventure, was superb. Netflix’s latest thriller, “Dangerous Lies” — starring Michael Scott — shares something with “Knives Out” as they both feature a rich old man and his caregiver. Beyond this, the two films are as wide apart as the North and the South Pole. There is very little surprise in “Dangerous Lies.”
Scott (“Fatal Lesson:The Good Teacher,” “Dangerous Heart,” “It’s Christmas, Carol”) takes us to a stately mansion owned by the wealthy Leonard (Eliot Gould) — a kind old man who has to pop many pills to stay alive. Obviously he needs a caretaker, and Katie Franklin (Camila Mendes) steps in. During the day, she works for Leonard, but at night, she attends a local diner. Her husband, Adam Kettner (Jessie T Usher) stays awake impatiently waiting for her, sometimes in his car outside.
The couple lead a precarious existence, struggling to pay off their credit card and other bills. But when Katie mentions her predicament to Leonard, he gives her a hefty check, the amount is many times more than what her actual salary is. When Leonard suddenly dies in his sleep and the couple find a large stash of money in the house, the web of deceit begins to spin. New characters like lawyer Julia Byron-Kim (Jamie Chung) and real-estate agent Mickey Hayden (Cam Gigandet) appear, thoroughly confusing both Adam and Katie.
David Golden’s writing is often messy, and sometimes you have to go back and forth (an advantage in streaming platforms like Netflix) to get a grip on the plot. As twists play out in a lazily paced story, too much is revealed too quickly at the end. This makes the movie seem rather uneven. While Mendes adds a dash of innocence to her character — and she is the only one for whom the title does not hold true — she is somewhat wooden, failing to convey the shocks and surprises which topple her every now and then. Usher is just passable, but Chung is quite a disaster, underlining the fact that while there is a pressing need for home entertainment in this period of lockdown, platforms like Netflix must tread carefully not to ruin their reputations.