Film Review – Knives Out

Knives Out (M)

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas

Four and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Forget the old school candlestick and lead pipe in the stuffy old Library or Billiard Room, the familiar “whodunnit” gets a makeover in this witty murder/mystery while keeping fun nods to sleuthing traditions.

The morning after celebrating his 85th birthday with his entire family at his mansion, wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead by his devoted nurse Marta (Ana de Armas).

The suspect list is lengthy, with everyone in the eccentric family having a potential motive to bump off the patriarch and claim his riches.

Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is on the case, hired under mysterious circumstances, trying to put the clues together.

Blanc keeps a close eye on his suspects, including daughter and real estate mogul Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), son and company CEO Walt (Michael Shannon), spoiled and unemployed grandson Ransom (Chris Evans) and lifestyle guru daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette), to name a few, and witnesses the dysfunctions unfold.

Writer/director Rian Johnson assembles a quick witted, clever script that juggles numerous characters, twists and gags and orchestrates them all beautifully into a hugely entertaining yarn.

knives

He warmly acknowledges the traditional whodunnit tropes while giving it a fresh new take for a modern audience. His nods to board-game Clue and TV series Murder, She Wrote are icing on the cake.

Johnson’s appreciation for this genre shows and is infectious – he is having as much of a good time as his audience is.

The stellar cast – all of them work perfectly together – pull this off amazingly, each clearly defining their character (even the ones that get less screen time) and are on the same page as Johnson with the fun factor.

One minor hiccup is when Johnson introduces political undertones with sledgehammer delivery, his characters blurting out “woke” dialogue that just doesn’t feel as organic as everything else.

Johnson’s number one goal is to entertain, and that he does. You will be laughing, guessing and double guessing until the very end.

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