Windfall is a mystery thriller struggling to find a reason to exist for an hour and a half.
A man (Jason Segel) is lounging around a beautiful property drinking orange juice. He pokes around and steals money, looking very relieved at the cash he found. Just when he was about to leave, the owner (Jesse Plemons) and his wife (Lily Collins) arrive. He gets caught on his way out through the front door and the man must find a way to deal with the couple and escape.
The movie starts interesting enough. A brass-heavy musical score plays while we’re taken for a quick tour of the property in the opening credits. It’s a kind of melody that you’ll hear in a Twilight Zone episode or old mystery film. It’s effective at establishing the tone of the movie.
Unfortunately, whatever tension this creates fizzles and the movie remains steadfastly flat.
To be fair, there are decent performances and curious moments.
The cast fit their roles – Segel as a desperate but clueless robber, Plemons as the self-aggrandizing douche in sneakers, and Collins as the trophy wife. Performances are good that you’ll be inclined to think that there’s going to be a plot twist somewhere.
The characters are level-headed about the situation. The man asks for cash and the husband ridicules it for being too low to be livable. The wife suggests that he double it. “Where was this cutthroat negotiator during our prenups?” he asks. The odd negotiation ends with half a million for the man.
The setting revolves around one place – a beautiful property surrounded by orange trees and blessed with good weather. The movie has an easy-breezy summer look and feel, which makes for an interesting contrast to the situation. The man, husband, and wife walk around, make small talk and wait for the money to arrive.
Unfortunately, Windfall doesn’t have a story to tell and makes the audience spend time on three ciphers of a half-baked attempt at a Hitchcock thriller.
The characters convince themselves that what they’re doing with their lives is justified. The husband is a tech billionaire who wrote an algorithm that enables companies to downsize. The wife runs the foundation of his company. There’s a crack in the marriage – the wife is not enthused about her husband’s future plans; the husband doesn’t care about his wife’s lack of agency. The man only cares about money.
The script doesn’t explore any of these enough to create a sense of mystery and suspense, as well as give its cast the material they need to sink their teeth into. Even with the addition of a hapless gardener who gets caught in the mess, the movie doesn’t register above meh. Windfall relies too much on its scenic location and the novelty quickly wears off.
The movie ends with a forgettable plot twist because there’s no one to invest in.
Windfall fancies itself as a clever pared-down homage to Hitchcock. Unfortunately the results says otherwise.
Windfall has good performances, but it's not enough to inject life into this gimmicky boring attempt at a Hitchcockian thriller.