Dangerous Lies – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A young married couple are struggling to make ends meet. The wife gets a job working for an eccentric old man and persuades the man to employ her husband to work in the gardens. When the old man dies unexpectedly, he leaves all of his worldly goods to the woman. The couple’s relationship comes under strain as they try to come to terms with their new circumstances.

Is it any good?: with a title like Dangerous Lies this film was was never going to be a masterpiece and so it proves. With a convoluted plot and a laborious, bumbling build-up, Dangerous Lies is a bit of a chore to watch.

Spoiler territory: Katie (Camila Mendes) works in Smile diner supporting both her and her husband, Adam (Jessie T Usher), as he studies. The plan is for him to find a job once he graduates so as she can return to school. As Katie works late shifts, Jessie picks up from the diner most nights. On one such night, the two return to the diner, after Katie’s break, to find that it is being robbed.

Adam, even as Katie protests not wanting him to get involved, decides to intervene. He grabs a heavy frying pan and sneaks up on the assailant, Ray Gaskin (Sean Owen Roberts), and bashes him on the head, preventing the robbery. Gaskin gets arrested. On the same night, a diamond heist has also happened.

Four months later and Katie is working as a caregiver for an elderly man, Leonard (Elliot Gould). Leonard like Katie and happily chats to her as she brings him his daily medication. Back at home, Katie is telling Adam about how stressed she is feeling due to their financial situation. She also feels that Adam is not taking their situation seriously enough.

Katie tells Adam that, even four months on, she is still unhappy about him having intervened during the diner robbery, scared that she was going to lose him. She goes for a drive and ends up at Leonard’s house. He finds her on the porch, having heard footsteps and invites her in. She tells him about her financial woes. He asks her why she never mentioned it before but she tells him that it is not his problem. She asks him if Adam can do some work for him.

The next day, Adam joins her at the house, coming to work on the gardens. There is a knock at the door later in the day and Katie goes and answers it. Mickey Hayden (Cam Gigandet) is at the door. He tells her he is an estate agent and he has clients who have fallen in love with the house. Katie tells him that she doubts the house is for sale but takes his card anyway.

The couple keep working, hoping to clear their debts and even looking for a medical school for Katie to attend. Katie’s employer, George Calvern (Michael P Northey), comes to check up on her. She tells Adam that he has to stay out of sight as Calvern would not condone a husband and wife working together.

Later in the day, Leonard gives Katie her wage by cheque. She and Adam go to the bank to deposit the cheque. Katie is reluctant to do so when she sees that Leonard has given her seven thousand dollars. Adam persuades her to pay the cheque into the account and discuss it with Leonard the next day. From another car, Hayden is watching them.

Adam asks about Leonard. Katie tells him that he has no one, no relatives or spouse. They return to the house the next day and Katie goes to give Leonard his medication. Not finding him in his bedroom, she goes up to the attic, knowing that he likes to listen to music up there. She finds him dead in his chair.

Katie tells Adam and he comes and checks him. He finds a key next to the body. It opens a trunk that is in the attic. He finds various newspaper clippings and photographs of a young Leonard with a woman. The clippings seem to indicate that Leonard had not perhaps been truthful when talking about his life. Katie wants to call the police.

Adam pulls up the shelf and finds the rest of the trunk is full of money. He and Katie discuss what to do. Katie wants to report everything to the police, Adam persuades her that they would just make the money disappear. They call the police.

Detective Chesler (Sasha Alexander) interview the couple. She asks about their working relationship with Leonard and how long they have worked there. She asks about Leonard’s health. Katie tells the detective that Leonard wanted to be cremated. The next morning, Katie goes to see Calvern to get herself listed for work again. Adam asks her why is she going to see him, thinking about the money, she tells him that is what they both should be doing.

Adam sees that they still have the keys to Leonard’s house. Katie is told by Calvern that she cannot work whilst she is under investigation. Adam gets a call from an interview he went to. Though it went well, he did not get selected for a second interview. He returns to the house and counts the money.

Whilst in the house, he hears footsteps. He goes to check out the noise and gets knocked unconscious. He is woken by his phone, Katie calling. She meets at the house and is not too happy that the is there. Did he see who attacked him? No, he was hit from behind. He tells her there is nearly one hundred grand in the trunk.

They take the money and put it in a safety deposit box in the bank. They return to the car. They are still being watched by Hayden. Katie gets a call from the detective. They go to the station to see her. She asks the same questions she asked before, asking about Leonard’s relatives and wishes. She asks again if she is sure Leonard wanted to be cremated. Katie says yes. She tells the detective that they will take care of the funeral expense.

They are the only people at his funeral. At the funeral, she is approached by Julia (Jamie Chung). Julia tells her that she is Leonard’s attorney. She goes back to the house with Adam and Katie and tells them about Leonard’s will. Leonard left everything to Katie. Julia tells Katie that she needs an attorney but Leonard had paid her retainer already so she would be happy to help her navigate the will.

As she leaves, Julia is seen out by Katie. Julia questions whether both Katie and Adam will be on the same page when it comes to money. At dinner, Adam wants to spend money, wanting to go on holiday and be flash. Katie cautions against frivolousness, wanting to clear their debts. Adam wants to get a new car.

Having inherited Leonard’s house, they prepare to move in. Adam wants to leave all of their old possessions behind, happy to just buy new ones. Adam gets a call. Someone wants to talk to him about the diner incident. Adam goes to the police station and is seen by Chelser. She tells him that no one from the station called but the man who did the robbery, Gaskin, got killed in prison.

Hayden tries to persuade Katie to sell the house again, knowing that Leonard is dead. She kicks him off of the property. She discusses the meeting with Hayden with Adam. He says he is just after his commission. Katie goes to the bathroom and sees that Adam has purchased a new watch and it looks expensive. He tells her it is a cheap rip-off because his old watch stopped.

Chelser goes to the diner where the incident happened. She goes and sees Katie and Adam at their old place. They are preparing to move into Leonard’s. Chelser wants to speak to Adam but as he is not there, she asks Katie about the incident in the diner. She asks how often Adam picked her up from work. A few times a week she tells the detective.

Julia drops Katie home and Adam wants to know what they were talking about. Katie tells him that she wanted to see her. They disagree about information sharing as Katie did not know that he had spoken to Chelser. Adam apologises and tells her he thinks he is being followed. She asks him if he went to the bank. He did. She tells him about Hayden coming to visit. They both think he probably knows about the money.

Chelser investigates Adam and Katie. Katie wants to find out if the money could be problematic having been warned by Julia that they could lose everything if they are found to have done some wrongdoing. Chelser goes and sees Calvern. He did not know that Adam was working at the house. She shows him a copy of the cheque Katie received from Leonard.

In the house, Katie is in the garage. In the attic of the garage, she finds a corpse and a bag full of diamonds. She tells Adam. Katie thinks that it is the old gardener. They find diamonds on him. Calvern comes to the house but Katie turns him away. In the evening, Katie checks over the record she kept of Leonard’s medication. One of the bottles is empty.

Adam wants to keep the diamonds and get rid of the body. Katie wants to call the police. Adam stops her. What will they do about the money? Katie does not care about the money or the house. Adam does not want to be poor again. He tells her he will take care of the body. Later in the night, Adam catches Calvern sneaking into the house. He scares him causing him to fall down the stairs and die.

Chelser thinks that Adam is tricking Katie and that Gaskin, the robber, worked in the college Adam went. Katie goes to see Julia. She talks over her concerns and Chelser’s intimations. Katie goes to the bank. All the money is gone. She tells Julia that they found diamonds. Julia tells her that Adam is probably going to disappear and leave Katie to deal with the fallout. She returns home and finds Adam packing.

Chelser is called to the body that Adam dumped. He is identified as the former gardener at Leonard’s house, which is why Chelser is told about him. Adam tells Katie he checked up on Hayden. He is not a real estate agent, he is an ex-con and his last job was a diamond heist. He had an accomplice on the job, the corpse they found.

Katie wants to call the police but Adam thinks they should just run. He goes to change his clothes and tells her to get her things. Katie calls Julia and tells her that Adam is home but her call is interrupted by Hayden. He wants the diamonds. She does not know where the diamonds are. He tells her to call Adam. He takes her as a hostage as Adam emerges with a gun. Hayden discards Katie and shoots Adam who falls to the ground. As he goes to check he is dead, Adam shoots him dead.

Katie runs over to a dying Adam. He tells her that the diamonds are in the garden. Julia turns up at the house. She tells Julia they need to find the diamonds. Katie tells Julia that Hayden killed Leonard with an overdose. Julia talks too much, revealing more than she should know and Katie realises that she is after the diamonds.

Katie tells her she does not know where the diamonds are as Adam hid them. Julia goes to kill Katie but is stopped by Chelser. She tries to shoot Chelser and is killed. Four months later, a pregnant Katie is gardening. Chelser comes to see her. She tells her the case is closed and Adam’s name has been kept out of it. Chelser asks about the diamonds. Katie tells her she has no idea where they are. The detective leaves. Katie switches on the garden sprinklers and the diamonds sparkle in the dirt. The end.

Dangerous Lies – a lazy, uninspired, title for a film – is rubbish. It looks quite nice and the acting is good enough with literally every actor on show having been in far better fare but it is not good. The story is confusing and plodding, none of the red herrings work or makes sense, the timeline does not even line up.

Mendes’ Katie is set up as the moral compass of the film but, because she is in love, makes stupid decisions. Usher’s Adam’s love of money is another red herring, as is Gould’s Leonard’s mysterious past which is never explained beyond a few old newspaper clippings.

Alexander’s detective Chelser spends all her time trying to prove the married couple are dodgy but then decides it is just Adam who is dodgy. What the initial failed robbery has to do with the rest of the film is anybody’s guess, though they shoehorn in a weak connection somehow.

The fact that Adam risked his life to save a diner but then turns into a greedy idiot the moment he sees money just did not add up. Northey’s Calvern dies just to increase the body count and Chung’s Julia goes full Scooby Do exposition at the end as she explains the whole convoluted mess.

Written by David Golden and directed by Michael Scott, Dangerous Lies is so poor that it feels way longer than its ninety-six-minute runtime. Golden’s script has no surprises or originality. The story takes almost an hour to get going and by then one is beyond caring.

The film looks nice and is competently directed except for the overwrought music choice which is constantly foreboding and adds nothing to the near absent atmosphere. Dangerous Lies is an hour and a half of your life that you will not get back. Give it a miss.

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