Review of 'Knives Out'

knives_out.jpg When wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in the study of his enormous mansion the morning after his 85th birthday party. Police suspicion immediately falls on the members of his immediate family: Richard (Don Johnson), Harlan's son-in-law, is discovered to have cheated on his wife Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Harlan's daughter and snobbish bore. We learn their rebellious son Ransom (Chris Evans) has been thrown out of the will completely. Harlan's daughter-in-law and wife of his deceased son Niel, Joni (Toni Collette) has been diverting money intended for her daughter Megan's (Katherine Langford) school fees. During the party, Harlan also fires his youngest son Walter (Michael Shannon) from heading up his publishing company. Harlan's caretaker, mild-mannered Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) was the last to see Harlan alive during their nightly game of Go. Private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, complete with southern accent), hired by an unknown benefactor, is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious death, but who did it?

Having seen the trailers for “Knives Out” I had assumed a bit of a humorous “whodunnit” but this is not such a film with the exception of the obviously OTT, duplicitous, family members squabbling over Harlan's money. Here Curtis particularly shines as a money-mad, selfish, scorned daughter while Evans exudes a quite though rebellious calm which you can help feel is hiding something. As the competent, but by no means genius, detective, Craig plays slightly against type providing us simply with a character who provides the viewer with a narrative window. On this note it is refreshing to see a mystery where the detective is not all-knowing.

The film hits the ground running though it takes a bit of time for the audience to catch up but after this the numerous flashbacks and cutting between the different characters begins to make sense and by the end we are familiar with the characters. It does seem to me that the film is overly long and quite repetitive with the ending being a bit of an anti-climax though quite satisfying…more of a whimper than a bang.

Reasonably good fun for a film that probably would not have garnered much attention had it not been one of the last films released before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. A tremendous cast and complicated enough plot to keep us amused.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-09-04

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Studio: Lionsgate

Year: 2019

Length: 130 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Rian Johnson: