Murder Mystery 2 is a killer piece of comedy, a dullard shot to the brain that plants its pacing in the mud. Action-packed and airheaded, it is hard to connect with this Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston-led piece as it fundamentally is not funny. With the Happy Madison style of shtick still lingering on, the first in the now double bill did not manage much fun, and the recap at the start, which has a couple of immediate plays on the spy genre and the romantic comedy, fails to ignite much spirit. Mystery solving is not an easy business, but Murder Mystery 2 makes it seem tedious and derelict, with a leading pair who have not moved on from their lives in a small apartment that looked crummy yet fine in the first feature.
But it made sense, the contrast of two hard workers thrown into tuxedos and sharp exteriors following retirement and unconvincing prior work find themselves back in mundanity. Sandler and Aniston play off one another and that plot spirals well enough but retracing the usual steps does little for forgettable returning support characters. Eventually and inevitably making their way to Paris as though they were pursuing John Wick, the flash helicopter rides and the champagne-swirling duo do little, as they did in Murder Mystery. The inclusion and inevitable build toward bigger setpieces featuring Mark Strong are underbaked and do little for the comedy. Key to all these scenes is the hopeful build toward something funnier, the callbacks and the cameos, but neither are particularly funny and have not been for some time.
Marginal improvements over the first come not from any technical place but from the comfort of seeing Sandler and Aniston on the screen. Murder Mystery 2 relies more on the time a viewer takes part in its tale than anything else. Not a bad bit of background noise to stick on while chowing down on that Friday night takeaway and the six bottles of discounted wine. But beyond empty comedy that fills the drunken soul, Murder Mystery 2 struggles to get a move on, to pace itself or to land its comedic consistencies. Surname mix-ups for the Spitz duo are as high as the comedy gets, but the action and setpieces throughout are rather engaged yet perplexingly simple. They rely on worldbuilding that comes beforehand and the continued appearances of Strong are quite likeable, though more for his presence as a Grimsby-clad agent than whatever empty shell he represents here.
Murder Mystery 2 is not going to set any hearts on fire or move many to tears with its consistent poor comedy, but the last half hour of one-room, Columbo-like spins and action-led consistency is quite fun. It takes quite some time to get there but the Sandler and Aniston connection sparks in those moments, which appears more and more like a spritz than a fluid momentum. Murder Mystery 2 is riddled with faults but finds a better pacing to it than the first, with a higher-octane energy to it, an explosive charm that never quite sticks with much consistency. Still, when it gets there, when Sandler and Strong put on a solid fight scene and rely on hurling Aniston up and down the sights of Paris, there is fun to be had, just not much of it.