The best hotels maintain their impeccable reputations by offering their guests an unparalleled experience of comfort, service and privacy every time they stay. Audiences returning to the Hotel Cortesia Tokyo for this sequel to Masquerade Hotel, a star-studded whodunnit, can expect polished entertainment of similar quality to that of the 2019 film.
Masquerade Night Movies Online sees hard-nosed homicide detective Nitta (Takuya Kimura) and the rest of his department return to the luxurious establishment for another round of undercover antics, after receiving an anonymous tip-off that a wanted murderer will attend the hotel’s New Year’s Eve masked ball.
Director Masayuki Suzuki has assembled another mouthwatering ensemble of top-tier Japanese stars, led by the returning Masami Nagasawa as the hotel’s no-nonsense Ms Yamagishi, to present another spirited and consistently entertaining caper. It is so uncannily on a par with its predecessor that we begin to question if we ever left.
Yamagishi, who now works the concierge desk and is under consideration for promotion to the hotel’s Los Angeles branch, remains committed to respecting her guests’ privacy and bending to their every request.
“Impossible” is a word that has no place in a hotelier’s vocabulary, she tells Nitta, who is, in turn, resolutely suspicious of everyone he encounters.
As the hours tick down to midnight, a number of potential suspects emerge. There’s Ikki Sawamura’s endlessly demanding Mr Kusakabe, whose private proposal dinner is just the first in an evening of increasingly unreasonable requests; Kumiko Aso’s secretive wife, planning a surprise birthday celebration for her husband; and two-timing family man Sono (Masanobu Katsumura), whose wife (Yoshino Kimura) and lover (Saki Takaoka) are both staying at the hotel.
As was the case with the first film, which was also adapted from a novel by Keigo Higashino, Masquerade Night Movies is less interested in solving the murder than it is in staging a series of lighthearted adventurous interludes to engage its heavyweight cast.
The will-they-won’t-they suggestion of romance between Nikka and Yamagishi that sat playfully at the heart of the previous outing is largely ignored this time round. In its place is more rambling contemplation of our desire and need as human beings to wear masks in our daily lives, and how Yamagishi is dedicated to respecting these facades, while Nikka’s job compels him to tear them away.
When the killer’s identity is finally revealed, it proves as ludicrous and ultimately inconsequential as in the first film, but the two hours it takes to get to the denouement is mostly pleasurable.