Title – Knives Out (2019)
Director – Rian Johnson (Looper)
Cast – Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jaime Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer
Plot – When elderly family matriarch and author Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is murdered, famed detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) must visit the family mansion to figure out who of Thromby’s many contacts and family members are responsible for his early demise.
“I suspect foul play. I have eliminated no suspects”
Review by Eddie on 29/11/2019
To put it mildly, director Rian Johnson’s experience behind the camera last time around was a highly interesting and career defining one.
Charged with taking over the new Star Wars saga in the form of the hotly debated The Last Jedi, Johnson found himself victim of countless online trolls, critics and universe obsessed fanboys, as his franchise turning feature found itself scrutinized like very few films do.
With its issues, The Last Jedi was still a film with some great moments and interesting ideas and the man who gave us Brick and Looper has always been a fine filmmaker with runs on the board, so it’s great to see the keen aficionado of mystery and whodunits deliver an enjoyable and fun romp without any pre-conceived constraints holding him back.
Knives Out is the type of mystery film of old, filled with a rag-tag collection of characters and possible suspects as Johnson builds off the foundation of authors such as Agatha Christie and filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, to concoct an extremely well-written and acted film that is sure to insight much fandom moving forward.
It’s not a film of much lasting substance, despite some already looking to deep into its underlying political themes born out of the Trump era, but Johnson and his cast are just having an old-fashioned good time here as Daniel Craig’s “KFC” southern detective Benoit Blanc and Ana de Armas’s (Brazilian, Ecuadorian or other various countries of origin) nurse Marta Cabrera team up to uncover the mystery of author Harlan Thromby’s untimely demise.
With Craig on top form here and going the whole nine yards and de Armas continuing to prove to us all she could well be the “next big thing”, Knives Out is a joy to watch whenever they get too command the screen and surrounded by one of 2019’s best ensembles, that is highlighted by an against type Chris Evans going to the dark side with his loathsome Ransom Drysdale and Michael Shannon dialing it back as Thromby’s son Walt, Knives Out is always watchable.
It’s a shame Johnson included one too many characters into his film though, as not all of the supports feel that needful to the story, particularly Jaeden Martell’s teenage internet troll (regardless of what Johnson intended, this feels like a character getting a say at the Star Wars keyboard warriors) and Katherine Langford’s granddaughter Meg, these type of characters feel like mere wallpaper in a film that shines best when focusing on its best components which remains throughout de Armas and the usually gruff Craig.
The other slightly disappointing aspect to this murder mystery is the fact that its final pay-off doesn’t exactly come off as much of a surprise and at over two hours, it would’ve been nice to have felt more rewarded with a genuinely mind-blowing reveal, but they’re high expectations born from a film with a great premise and some lovingly staged ideas.
Final Say –
A fun statement from a director who seemingly had the world against him with his last film, Knives Out is a well-played whodunit and while the film doesn’t quite stick the landing, there’s much to enjoy leading up to it thanks to some great central turns and whip smart script work.
3 1/2 doughnut holes out of 5