IMDB Synopsis: A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.
Knives Out is an incredibly fun theater experience. Ever so often, a film comes along that so completely accomplishes its mission that you can’t help but be in awe for the runtime. Director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, The Last Jedi) has crafted a murder mystery whodunnit that’s executed to a T, who clearly had as good of time making it as the audiences will have consuming it. Knives Out is Clue meets The Royal Tenenbaums with shades of something darker and sharper. Featuring an incredible all-star cast who play characters who are pathetic, larger-than-life, and deliciously self-absorbed, Knives Out is the most fun that you’ll have at the theaters all year.
Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), an absurdly successful mystery novelist has just died, allegedly from a suicide after his 85th birthday celebration. Harlan’s ridiculous family—who rely on the patriarch’s charity to live extravagant and idle lives—are all champing at the bit for the will reading. But the legendary private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has been mysteriously tapped to assist the authorities ascertain whether there’s foul play afoot.
There’s no shortage of suspects. Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Harlan’s daughter, and her husband Richard (Don Johnson), expect the inheritance as their birthright. Spacey and useless Joni (Toni Collette) and her daughter Meg (Katherine Langford) who married into the family (since widowed) and rely on Harlan for tuition and allowance. Walt, Harlan’s son and runner of his vast publishing company. And there’s Hugh “Ransom” (Chris Evans), Linda and Richard’s on who lives a playboy-esque, carefree life thanks to Harlan. And then there’s the help: Marta (Ana De Armas), Harlan’s nurse and confidante, and Fran (Edi Patterson) Harlan’s housekeeper.
If the first act introduces the cast of characters and sets the scene of birthday celebration. And the second act sets the wheels of the investigation in motion. It’s the third act where the train is fulling rolling. Avarice, cowardice, and lunacy reign supreme as Benoit Blanc and Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) race to get to the truth. Without giving anything away, Director Johnson has weaved a tale so tight and so clever that the ride is as thrilling as the conclusion. The dark humor, the niche performances, and the Rashomon-esque telling of events is so carefully crafted Knives Out will keep you guessing until the end.
And by film’s end, it’s not the twist or the reveal that drives it—although it’s certainly wonderfully and surprisingly done. The journey truly is as good as the destination with Knives Out, and multiple revisits to the film will only deepen one’s appreciation for the movie. In the modern landscape of superhero films and indie drama (ed. note: which are both great), movies like Knives Out just don’t exist. Intelligent films that aren’t driven by studio notes or actor’s phoning it in are few and far between nowadays and it’s a shame. In short, go see Knives Out. Who knows when we’ll get another film like it.
Highlights: The last shot in the movie is so, so good. Seeing Chris Evans play a character who is diametrically opposed to Captain America is a breath of fresh air and a reminder that he’s a very good actor.
MVP: Ana De Armas as Marta. It’s great that wider audiences will finally get a chance to see her shine in a leading role. It’s impossible to not feel empathy for her character.
Should you watch it: Yes. Movies like this should be treasured because they don’t come along very often anymore. 9/10.
Director: Rian Johnson
Studio: Lionsgate // Original release date: November 27, 2019