Synopsis: A family reunion at a remote mansion takes a lethal turn when they are trapped inside and forced to play a deadly survival game where only one will make it out alive.
Stars: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Will Sasso, Jon Voight, Laura Mennell, Megan Charpentier, Kaya Coleman, Skyler Shaye, Dylan Playfair, Bradley Stryker
Director: Sean McNamara
Running Length: 96 minutes
TMMM Score: (2/10)
Review: Each critic has their standards for evaluating a movie. Some keep (like me) keep it broad, which makes it easier to treat each film with a certain amount of fairness. This is why I can post a review of a classic such as In the Heat of the Night and newer work like Heathers: The Musical and give them nearly the same score but not necessarily equate them as the same kind of “good” movie. The one criterion I have is universal, no matter what: the taste level. I think every movie, even the bad ones, can eek out a fraction of good taste, and those that can’t manage to instantly have to start at the bottom and work their way up on my scoresheet.
Barely twenty minutes have passed in Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders before someone sent a small cat down a garbage disposal, an act that has zero bearing on anything else that happens in the film. The act may illustrate a character trait that comes into play later, but it’s so vile (with poorly executed VFX, I might add) that I briefly considered skipping the rest of the film altogether. That the film doubles down and shows us the aftermath is even more alarming. It’s not as if I believed the unmistakable stuffed animal with its limbs shredded and covered in red sauce was real. Still, that director Sean McNamara (The King’s Daughter) kept it in makes you wonder who drove the ship for this ill-advised mystery thriller.
The kitty disposal bit is sadly not the first of many questionable choices that happen within this film, a lame Knives Out knockoff that doesn’t have the star power or the creative writing to get in the hemisphere of the ingenuity that 2019 movie crafted. Instead, we have Jonathan Rhys Meyers (WifeLike) and Will Sasso (The Three Stooges) as brothers gathering to celebrate the 80th birthday of their much-hated patriarch, Oscar-winner Jon Voight (Anaconda). With their significant others and children in tow, the clan travels to Voight’s secluded island, where his stately mansion becomes a death trap, and a peculiar game arrives that, when played, reveals family secrets that should have stayed buried.
Often, you find yourself with a movie that starts with a strong set-up or working from a place of promise only to go downhill, dragged into the depths by its unrealized potential. That’s not the case with Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders. It starts badly, with a prologue that drops you right into confusing action, and ends worse. Nearly every character is morally bankrupt and reprehensible, and the one that potentially has a kind bone in their body gets dealt the most unbelievably gruesome demise imaginable. We’re talking organ-removing while still alive territory, ala the board game Operation.
With Voight objectively terrible performing an oddly specific impression of a good friend of his who shall remain nameless (let’s call him Ronald Grump), Sasso grossly overeating the scenery, and Rhys Meyers outrageously miscast based on his age, I’m almost wondering if this was meant to be a comedy and I just missed the memo. Or maybe the actors missed it. Or perhaps everyone involved was just collectively making their own movie and didn’t discuss it with one another. That’s how it honestly feels as you’re watching it. Nothing makes a lick of sense in Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders, and for a mystery dependent on the pieces fitting together, that’s a problem.