Lily Collins as Lauren Monroe
Simon Pegg as Morgan Warner
Connie Nielsen as Catherine Monroe
Chace Crawford as William Monroe
Patrick Warburton as Archer Monroe
Marque Richardson as Scott
Michael Beach as Harold Thewlis
Joe Herrera as Det. Emilio Sanchez
Lucas Alexander Ayoub as Eddie Parker
Christine DeRosa as Sofia Fiore
Directed by Vaughn Stein
After over a decade of rocking the world of comedy, Simon Pegg has seen something of a career revival with more serious turns in the Mission: Impossible franchise and indie darling Lost Transmissions and his latest effort, Inheritance, which reunites him with Terminal director Vaughn Stein, certainly proves himself a worthy performer in the thriller genre, even when the film around him can’t quite sustain his performance.
Set in New York, the film focuses on Lauren Monroe, an on-the-rise district attorney and daughter to the wealthy and powerful Archer Monroe who seeks to forge her own path as her father would rather see her act as a defender to him and his wealthy friends. When Archer passes away, he leaves a large portion of his wealth to his wife and congressman son, while only leaving Lauren with $1 million and an envelope containing directions to a bunker where she finds an imprisoned stranger who holds secrets that threaten to unravel and destroy the lives of her family and everyone around them.
The setup for the film’s mystery plays out relatively compelling over the course of its opening 20 minutes, seeing Lauren successfully traverse her life as a no-holds-barred DA strong in her drive for justice as well as a loving sister to her campaigning brother and loving mother and wife, all while in the midst of the biggest case of her career. The fast-paced nature of this opening montage, in which we get a sense of Lauren’s moral baseline and connections to the other characters, feels like a solid connection between the audience and our lead character while simultaneously feeling as though the screenwriter used multiple seasons of The West Wing and The Newsroom as reference for this portion of the film.
When the film gets to the mystery portion and introduces audiences to Pegg’s Morgan Warner, the intrigue builds as the secretive bunker is revealed containing his disheveled character, but this is also tragically where the film begins to take a steady decline in its originality and intrigue. Much like many stories of wealthy families in America, Warner reveals to Lauren her family’s ugly past of murder, cover-ups, bribes, affairs and drug use, but rather than explore these clichés to make any kind of message, the story does it just to touch upon what many deem necessary for the genre. There’s nothing wrong with a film utilizing its genre tropes to help raise the stakes or set up a debilitating through line for the main characters, but the problem here is it does neither, with the stakes never feeling so high that audiences feel concerned for the safety of these characters we’ve had 20 minutes of true connection with, nor driving them off their moral path in any kind of interesting manner.
One of the worst elements of the film coms with its late-in-the-game twist regarding the true backstory of a few key characters, as it not only sucks the life out of what’s come before, but also begs the question of just who should we even be rooting for. The final twist in the film feels like it actively works against the personal growth and insight the characters have learned over the course of the story in favor of putting them back where they were at the start of the film, bringing to mind a fairly insightful point from Rick and Morty: “Maybe I’d stop making so many mistakes if I let myself learn from them!”
Despite a star-studded cast, the only true shining light from its ensemble comes in the form of Pegg’s twisting and delectable performance as Warner, with the actor not only delivering a solid American accent, but also chewing up every bit of scenery he’s given. His performance as the mysterious imprisoned soul in the underground bunker is appropriately ambiguous-yet-sympathetic enough that the viewer finds themself just as unsure about whether to trust what he’s claiming as fact or deny his description of the past as Collins’ Lauren wants to do.
Collins doesn’t deliver a poor leading performance, by any means, but given her phenomenal turns in To The Bone and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, her work in this film left me wanting more, while Patrick Warburton was finally given the opportunity to show off some dramatic chops, only to be thrown into underwhelming flashbacks.
Inheritance is certainly not the worst effort from the thriller genre of late, offering the occasional bit of intrigue and twist and supported by an incredible performance from Pegg, but is mostly just too unoriginal and dull to match up to the better parts of its whole.