“Does any daughter really know her father?” It’s a strange question at the heart of the new feature “Inheritance”, a movie that starts out as a murky family drama of the rich and famous before quickly turning into a twisted sins-of-the-father thriller. It instantly sucks you in and it’s a fun enough ride all the way to the end. But making sense of it all turns out to be more of a chore than it should be.
Lily Collins plays Lauren, a strong-minded New York district attorney and proverbial thorn in the side of Wall Street.￼ She’s the daughter of uber-wealthy bank executive Archer Monroe (Patrick Warburton) and the sister of Will Monroe (Chace Crawford), a hotshot congressman fighting for reelection amid some hefty corruption allegations. Catherine (an underutilized Connie Nielsen), the family matriarch, tries to keep everyone happy which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Archer’s sudden death in the opening few minutes shakes the Monroe power family to its core. We learn that Lauren’s progressive crusading as DA is partly out of conviction but also an act of rebellion against her family. This had driven a wedge between her and her father who was frustrated with Lauren for not protecting the family interests and for going after his millionaire friends. Everyone tells her “He was so proud of you“, but when the will is read her brother is left $20 million compared to her measly $1 million (oh the rich folk problems).
Lauren is privately approached by her father’s loyal-to-the-death attorney (Michael Beach) who gives her a packet containing a flash-drive and a key. Turns out Arthur has left her something else that no one but her must know about. A cryptic message on the drive leads her to an underground bunker hidden on the far side of the family estate. Inside the dark, musty chamber she finds a shaggy, unkept Simon Pegg, chained on a leash and itching for a slice of key lime pie. Personally, I would have rather had $20 million.
The stranger says his name is Morgan and he holds dark secrets that could bring down the Monroe family dynasty. It sets up a series of Starling/Lecter back-and-forths where Lauren must indulge Morgan’s curiosity for every new bite of information. She then goes out to check the veracity of his claims, learning some rather unsavory truths about her father along the way. Director Vaughn Stein rinses and repeats until things finally begin to come into focus.
Unfortunately for “Inheritance” the payoff isn’t as fun as the anticipation. I was onboard for most of it despite knowing how far-fetched the whole thing is. Actually that’s a big part of the fun. But once the pieces start coming together, you realize many of them don’t fit. And there were several instances where I just quit trying to figure out some of the strange character logic.
Despite looking more like a college freshman than a NYC district attorney, Collins gives it her all and her performance works for the most part. She nails the rollercoaster of emotions and sells her cunning yet empathetic part in her tangos with Pegg. He’s having a blast doing what he can with the shaky dialogue he’s given. I mean you can’t help but giggle when he chews up lines like ￼”A lawyer, a banker, and a politician – the unholy trinity“.
To be honest, you really can’t help but giggle at the whole thing. As entertaining as it can be, “Inheritance” never rises above its rather silly premise. It leaves too many questions unanswered, has too many head-scratching moments, and doesn’t quite muster the mystery or excitement it needs. It’s still worth checking out if you’re looking for a fun, daffy escape. Just know that while it’ll keep your attention, sticking the landing proves to be trickier.
VERDICT – 2.5 STARS