Knives Out (Comedy, Crime) (2019)
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis
As a wealthy novelist is presumably killed on the night after his 85th birthday, two police lieutenants are joined by a famous detective who challenges the presumed suicide and tries to convince everyone that a murder was committed.
In an uncommon genre, Rian Johnson, inspired by novelist Agatha Christie creates an original mystery. Without much competition these days, with the only contender being Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot remakes, it’s a delight to see an entirely fresh take. The concept for ‘’Knives Out’’ was formed in 2005, with the announcement coming in 2018. It was produced by MRC and T-Street Productions while being distributed by Lionsgate.
After attending the 85th birthday party of novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), the entire family become suspects as Thrombey is found dead. While the police fairly confidently state it is a suicide, famous detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) isn’t convinced. In a series of interviews and a short stay, Blanc pieces together everything that has happened, perhaps putting most trust in private nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), who’s unable to lie.
Bonds between the sizable family of Harlan Thrombey are strained, and each has their motives for the likely murder of their patriarch; these eclectic yet ignorant individuals and an outsider in nurse Marta make for an intriguing investigation, one that Benoit Blanc is eager to solve.
There’s free rein in this mystery for Johnson weaving his own web, using a detective in Craig’s Blanc reminiscent, yet unique from Hercule Poirot. It intelligently waits to introduce Blanc while Stanfield’s Lieutenant Elliott and Segan’s Trooper Wagner interrogate most family members; their motivations and alibis are intelligently brought forth in what is a section to introduce everyone and further the narrative. While these extensive sections explain, they deceive simultaneously, never quite granting the viewer the entire truth. If flashbacks aren’t your cup of tea, ‘’Knives Out’’ has too many — it’s the hook, line and sinker.
While there are copious angles to figure out, ‘’Knives Out’’ remains as obvious as it can be, opting for entertainment over substance at most times, which is not a dig or poke at the carefully crafted investigation but rather an observation. It’s a mystery flick for a younger generation, made for this era of moviegoers and cinephiles.
Not each casting will be recognisable to the transitory consumer. Still, I’ll state it’s an impeccable cast, and to see Plummer in one of his final performances is a delight, alongside standouts like Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, LaKeith Stanfield and, of course, Daniel Craig. Packing enough surprise to form an entertaining whole, I’d have to say Johnson has Branagh beat, even though I enjoy what the latter has done too.
Sharp as a knife.