Failing to recognise the potential of its unique plot, Inheritance spends too long building up to its conclusion and falls short of ever being meaningful.
Struggling to find its footing whilst carving an indirect path that never feels purposeful, Inheritance desperately tries to build tension and suspense but in the process clutters the narrative with too many unfinished side-stories that quickly drop away into nothing. A film that inherently seemed to have an interesting premise that should have been taken advantage of, Inheritance ultimately falls too short with flat acting, unlikeable characters and a needlessly slow pace that stops it from ever being a worthy watch. And these are only a few issues.
Inheritance centres on the Monroes, a widely successful and wealthy family that is rocked by the death of the father and husband, Archer Monroe (Patrick Warburton). Leaving a substantial inheritance to all his family, his daughter Lauren Monroe (Lily Collins) comes into possession of a secret inheritance that she must hide from everyone else. Discovering her father has held a man, Morgan Warner (Simon Pegg) captive for 30 years, Lauren finds herself holding the literal key to his freedom as she becomes engulfed in the mysteries and lies of her family. As Lauren battles to try and piece together all the bits of information about who this man is and was, she struggles with her own morality at keeping him captive which goes against everything she believes in.
Starring Lily Collins and Simon Pegg in the two lead roles, along with Connie Nielsen and Chase Crawford, the film undoubtedly boasts some great acting talent. Unfortunately, it’s surprising then how emotionally disconnected most of the plot is due to the weak performances that never enhance the characters past how they would originally appear on the script. Granted, the film’s script by Matthew Kennedy hardly gives way to any character development. When watching Collins who tries to deliver the emotional complexity of mixed feelings and the choices she’s faced, her acting sometimes veers on stiff and unconvincing that lacks the conviction required to carry off the dilemma she’s offered. However, it is Pegg who suffers the worst. As the elusive Morgan Warner, Pegg needed to show a level of duplicity in his characterisation, but this never seems clear enough. Subsequently, it makes one of the film’s “big” reveals land flat and inadvertently undermines what the film has spent a majority of its time building up to. Thankfully, Crawford proves more than competent in his time on screen. But even within the little moments he has, the poor script never considers him more than just a side character for a couple of convoluted exposition moments that rarely developed to any fruition.
Ultimately though, there’s a limit to what the actors can accomplish because of the script’s major failings. While it starts with a flashy sequence of events that are edited in a manner that immediately grabs attention, it pretty much falls downhill from then on when Collins and Pegg meet. Hampered at first by the constant need of backwards and forwards conversation that spends more time revealing the padded details that surround Archer than actually developing into anything meaningful, the film spends too long diverging down multiple tangents for its destination to feel meaningful. In fact, while the last twenty minutes of the film probably contains the most thrilling moments, I found myself disconnected from everything that had happened before because all suddenly becomes meaningful. Rather than conjuring up a thoughtful twist, it undermines everything that has led up to this moment, and in the process makes everything else look like needless padding. And if that wasn’t enough, it attempts to consolidate this issue by using the repeated symbol of a chess game that appears at various times throughout the film. Although, in this version of chess, it’s not the thoughtful and impactful game of logic requiring you to think ahead of your opponent, but more of a sacrificial game of luck. In the end, the fact that it all feels utterly pointless and frankly boring, fails to justify any warrant of viewing.
Inheritance tries to enact something original, a feat that’s respected in the current market of remakes, sequels and prequels. However, this simply isn’t enough to justify a film’s existence. Wasting the talent that it attracts, and a move that definitely doesn’t demonstrate Pegg’s ability to perform a serious character rather than his usual comedic stylings, it sadly flounders about as it tries everything to keep viewers interested. You shouldn’t go out of your own way to view this lacklustre thriller and, to put it mildly, it’s a film I could have dozed off to.
Inheritance, directed by Vaughn Stein, is distributed in the UK by Signature Entertainment, and is available to rent now via Apple TV, Amazon, and other VOD platforms. Certificate 15.