Review: ‘Knives Out,’ A Sharp, Witty Spin On The Classic Whodunnit Mystery
2019 hasn’t been the best year for the 1% in Hollywood. This past August, we received the bloody outrageous Ready Or Not, a film about a woman who picked the wrong game to play with her new family she married into, and it continues with Rian Johnson’s (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) whodunnit mystery, Knives Out.
It certainly wouldn’t be a whodunit mystery without the five main components: an all-star cast, a giant, fictitious mansion (which, turns out, is three mansions in one), a dead body, and a collection of unique characters who double as suspects. Rian Johnson pulled out all the stops from beginning to end, as the film is sharp, witty, and will keep some people guessing until the, admittedly, flat end.
The film opens to a dead body. Harlan Thrombey, through flashbacks, is a charming monster, which has always been the perfect role for Christopher Plummer. A renowned mystery writer, Thrombey had amassed a fortune from all his best sellers and cultivated a severe dependency from all his family members.
Once Harlan’s body is discovered, the police (Lakeith Stanfield and Noah Segan) question the family, a collection of outlandish characters spearheaded by Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Shannon as the children of Thrombey, rounded out by Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, and so on.
We get to spend a lot of time with Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and Marta Cabrera (Ana De Armas) during the film. Blanc, who is a unique character, to say the least, walks to the beat of his own drum, and his part in the investigation is a mystery on its own. Marta, who was Harlan’s caretaker, sticks close with Blanc, and is easily the most sympathetic character in the film, despite her skeptical views on humanity.
As the movie continues, skeletons in the closet are slowing exposed, showing a pathetic level of pettiness and sharp teeth the likes that we can only see in films like this, as Blanc strips away characters defenses and the murderer is exposed.
Excluding Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson’s films always feel self-aware in the genre they play. A devoted Agatha Christie fan, Knives Out is certainly a love letter to her style of writing, but he adds his own styled twists as he anticipates what fans think might happen and actively avoid it to keep them guessing.
Knives Out is a fun film that engages the crowd to pay close attention to the subtle details of the film’s surroundings and to hang on every word that’s spoken. If they pay close enough attention to the clues, the viewer will know who the murderer is roughly ten minutes before the cliche parlor room reveal scene. Johnson does a fantastic job creating intertwining real clues with fake though, by the end of the film, you can’t help but admire the man’s obvious love for the genre.