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‘Knives Out’ (review)

Produced by Rian Johnson, Ram Bergman
Written and Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans,
Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis,
Michael Shannon, Don Johnson,
Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield,
Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell,
and Christopher Plummer

 

Rian Johnson’s name had been dragged through the mud in recent years for his very very controversial foray into the Star Wars universe with his contribution, The Last Jedi.

He had been seemingly laying low until now and he has come back in a big way with his latest feature, Knives Out.

Now, I am one of the ones who actually loved The Last Jedi and loved what he did with the Star Wars Universe, so take my review with a grain of salt. I will also mention though that I completely understand why people hated it and why they think it ruined Star Wars.

That being said, Knives Out is a beautiful throwback to the old Agatha Christie films of the 50’s and 60’s. Johnson has assembled a top notch cast of incredible actors to play out his well put together, “whodunnit?”

The film, without spoiling anything, is a taught tale of murder, intrigue, and suspense surrounding the murder of one of the most famous murder mystery novelists ever, Harlan Thrombey, deliciously played by Christopher Plummer. Ana de Amas plays Marta Cabrera, the somewhat mousy and yet, determined nurse of Harlan who may or may not know more than she is letting on.

The gathering of his entire immediate family for his birthday sets the stage for a wonderful series of both motives and suspects.

Probably my favorite character in the whole film is southern gentleman and infamous P.I. Benoit Blanc sublimely played by Daniel Craig.

Blanc has never not solved a mystery he was hired for and in the grand tradition of Poirot, Miss Marples, Columbo, and Jessica Fletcher, M. Blanc will not be swayed from discovering the truth. Craig chews the scenery and is delightful as the Kentucky Fried Sleuth and has a future after Bond should he choose to accept.

This film was a blast to watch. It was just a joy to watch the cast of the film played their part impeccably. Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell are the main family members and they are both horrible people and hilariously conniving you just sit waiting anxiously to see if they get their comeuppance.

Johnson holds true to the well worn but reliable tropes of the murder mystery and uses it to tell a fast paced, snappy mystery that will keep you guessing to the end. There are the obvious twists and turns and thankfully not a lot of “red herrings” thrown in our way as the tale unfolds. This makes for a neat and tidy story that never tries to confuse the audience for the sheer sake of doing so, so that when the final outcome is revealed the viewers aren’t mired in a lot of needless crap that wasn’t necessary and there just to throw us off the scent of the truth.

If you are a fan of both the board game and the film adaptation of Clue, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, or the hilarious film parody, Murder by Death, than Knives Out is made for you.  It is as witty as it is intriguing. The cast is marvelous and the writing and directing by Rian Johnson goes a long way to make up for his somewhat dubious attempt at subverting the Star Wars franchise.

I highly recommend Knives Out and as a testament to how good this film is,  I look  forward to seeing it again, despite knowing how it all ends even though I know how it all ends.

 

 

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