Knives Out - a silly, delightful, murder mystery that entertains until a slight stumble at the end
3.5 out of 5
I’ve almost forgiven Rian Johnson for killing Luke Skywalker, almost. It’s two years since Johnson killed off one of my heroes and now he’s back, writing and directing a fresh new Agatha Christie-style Whodunnit. He’s assembled a wonderful cast including an avuncular Christopher Plummer, a neurotic Jamie Lee Curtis, a hammy Daniel Craig, a resurgent Don Johnson, a cookie Toni Collette, a paranoid Michael Shannon, a creepy Chris Evans and...wait for it… a wonderfully naive Ana de Armas.
When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday party, the inquisitive and debonair Benoit Blanc (Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan's dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan's untimely death.
I’ve often said this before, but in a time or sequels, prequels, comic book adaptations, biopics and last saga installments (I’m looking at you Star Wars IX), it is refreshing to see something different; a semi-original film with a cast who know how to deliver. I say semi-original because we’ve all seen this film before. If you’ve ever seen an Agatha Christie story, a Miss Marple or any episode of Murder She Wrote, the characters in Knives Out will all be familiar. Within minutes we know who everyone is without knowing their role in the plot. Everyone is set up as a suspect and there ensues much ado as the private investigator, Benoit Blanc (Craig) works his magic. There are twists and turns a-plenty which makes this such an enjoyable film.
The acting, as one would expect, is first class, although Craig’s Colonel Sanders accent does slip from time to time, particularly when he sings - yes he sings, thankfully briefly. Everyone else just plays themselves and has fun doing it. Every character gets their moment in the spotlight and they all shine as their turn comes around. Don Johnson is experiencing something of a resurgence lately and it’s welcome.
My only quibble is that the denouement feels a little rushed at the end. We have taken a rambling, exploratory path to get to this point and things fall together a little too easily. I did spot the maguffin early - but that was ok - it was still a delicious ending. I know some Star Wars fans have still not gotten over Episode VIII and have given this film a poor rating on film-ratings websites. They need to get over themselves. This is an enjoyable film that, true, is not without its faults. Go see this and let yourself be brought along for the ride. It’s fun.
Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig will be reunited in next year’s Bond outing, No Time To Die.