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"DANGEROUS LIES"
(2020) (Camilla Mendes, Jessie T. Usher) (Not Rated)


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QUICK TAKE:
Dramatic Thriller: A young couple must contend with unexpected developments when they inherit a large house owned by the woman's boss.
PLOT:

Four months after her husband, Adam Ketner (JESSIE T. USHER), stopped a gunman at the diner where she worked, Katie Franklin (CAMILA MENDES) now has a job -- placed by home care agency boss George Calvern (MICHAEL P. NORTHEY) -- working as the daytime caretaker for 88-year-old Leonard Wellesley (ELLIOTT GOULD) who lives alone in a big house in Chicago. He's quite fond of Katie -- in a grandfatherly way -- and offers to help them out financially, what with them deep in debt due to Adam's student loans. She declines the offer, but does manage to get Adam a job working at the house as the groundskeeper.

The house has also caught the eye of Mickey Hayden (CAM GIGANDET) who says he has a real estate client who'd like to buy the place, but Katie informs him it's not for sale. But when Leonard ends up dead, not only does Mickey show up again, but so does Det. Chesler (SASHA ALEXANDER) who becomes increasingly suspicious of the young couple, especially after lawyer Julia Byron Kim (JAMIE CHUNG) shows up out of the blue informing them that Leonard left everything to Katie.

With that, the discovery of nearly $100,000 in cash and more, Adam thinks they're now on easy street, all while Katie feels uneasy about their windfall, particularly as odd and troubling things continue to arise.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

In the "you can learn something new every day" category, I just learned that the term "windfall" was apparently first used in the fifteenth century as related to wind causing fruit to drop from trees, thus presumably meaning those who harvested or simply ate such food got a day or two off from climbing up ladders or the trees themselves to access that fruit. Granted, most such stems are hardy unless said fruit is very ripe or even starting to rot, meaning it was going to drop and go bad anyway.

Coincidentally or not, the same can often be said for the newer more recognized use of that term -- meaning those who suddenly come into some sort of financial gain. Alas, while some know how to handle their finances, others don't, especially when the money in question falls in copious amounts. They either spend it unwisely or others come looking to get their paws on that savory fruit. Such is part of the tale of "Dangerous Lies."

It's an old-school domestic thriller where a couple (played by Camila Mendes and Jessie T. Usher) not only find around $100,000 hidden in a trunk belonging to their just expired employer (Elliott Gould), but then learn that man who had no family left them his entire estate, including the large house where she served as his daytime caregiver and he was the gardener.

Of course, with any such death that occurs outside of a medical facility, the police are called in and Detective Chesler (Sasha Alexander) shows up and has enough of a gut feeling that things aren't as peachy keen -- sorry, couldn't resist with a fruit bit -- as they initially seem.

The couple is loaded down in debt, the placement agency that got her the job was unaware that her husband joined the team -- against their rules -- and they happened to be at the scene of an armed robbery attempt (that opens the film) where the hubby took out the perp but not before the bad guy killed an employee.

It's a well-worn set-up where there's enough doubt and the recipients of said windfall make some really stupid decisions that things start to unravel for them. Unfortunately, the same also happens to the film overall as more characters (played by Cam Gigandet and Jamie Chung) are introduced and everyone ends up connected in an increasingly convoluted back-story that then comes to the forefront of this tale.

Perhaps if such stories had never been told before -- say, like back in the fiftieth century when that one person decided to give a name to weather-based fruit dropping -- this might have come off as intriguing and exciting. But we've seen countless movies of this particular ilk -- especially during the 1980s and '90s -- with many of them done better than what screenwriter David Golden has conceived and director Michael Scott tries to bring together on the screen.

It certainly doesn't help that Usher's character's motivation is all over the board, thus making his behavior seem erratic to the point of distraction and removing viewers from the proceedings. I get that all of that's supposed to make him become a suspect in the eyes of the detective and maybe even the missus, but it just didn't work for me.

Which sadly also applies to the overall film. Had it been done in a more novel, imaginative, or at least credibly cohesive way, it could have had its own windfall in terms of entertaining so many captive, at-home viewers in today's new world. But with its weak stems, it's too easily blown to the ground where most will probably find it too ripe with issues resulting in a bad taste left in their mouths. "Dangerous Lies" rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed April 28, 2020 / Posted May 1, 2020


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