I don’t imagine it’s been an easy two years for Rian Johnson. After landing the dream job of directing a Star Wars feature film, he was torn apart by that fanbase for his efforts. But Johnson didn’t let that get to him and began working on a new film. That film is, of course, the whodunit film Knives Out. So, how does the movie fare and should Johnson critics give this movie a chance?
Knives Out is a modern murder mystery in the same vein as Agatha Christie or the board game Clue. Daniel Craig stars as the well dressed, sleuth detective Benoit Blanc, who is hired to help solve the mysterious passing of Christopher Plumber’s Harlan Thrombey. Thrombey is a rich and successful author of mystery novels himself and has considerable assets that may prove to be too tempting for his extensive family. The family-and thus the suspects-include the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Katherine Langford and Michael Shannon. Rounding up the primary cast is Ana de Armas’ Marta Cabrera, the protagonist of the movie who served as Harlan’s primary caregiver, confidant and friend.
Many of the Thrombeys have a clear and obvious motive to fit the profile but this movie isn’t so obvious. And that’s the great thing about Knives Out. Johnson knows you know a thing or two about these types of movies and know the formula. Thus, he decided to shake things up while keeping things in the same vein as his contemporaries. And despite the film being about murder and deception, it’s pretty funny-unlike the humour that was attempted in The Last Jedi.
The performances here are all top-notch, with a particular standout being given to Ana de Armas’ Marta. She’s the emotional center of the movie as Thrombey’s caregiver. Unlike the rest of his family, whom Harlan has grown to despise (understandably), he has formed an actual bond of friendship with Marta. But how does that affect her and what are her motives in this web of intrigue? There’s a lot of players in said web and they all tie in nicely in some way shape or form, whether in the grand mystery or in filling out the layers of the family.
Just when you think you have the movie figured out, the movie keeps going and you’re left wondering, no that can’t be it, there has to be more. And there is and what keeps coming is smart and unexpected. Guiding us to the conclusion is Craig’s Inspector Blanc, a private detective with a Southern Drawl that thankfully, isn’t too distracting. He’s a sleuth but doesn’t have that same level of intelligence that his literary counterparts like Holmes or Poirot might have. He’s good, quite good, but not that good and that forces him to actually have to detect and ponder as opposed to doing grand deductions.
There’s not much else to say about Knives Out without talking about spoilers, so we’ll leave it at that for the time being and simply say you should certainly go check this one out, it ranks as one of the best films of the year and is simply a joy to watch.