Rian Johnson has deliciously subverted the classic whodunnit films with his latest outing Knives Out, a hilarious & whip-smart Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. Following the divisive Last Jedi, Johnson has returned to his genre bending roots à la Brick, his high school neo-noir mystery film and Looper, the thought-provoking time travelling sci-fi flick. With such an entertaining script, phenomenal cast and gripping mystery that will surely be a crowd pleaser, this may just be one of the top films of the year.
When wealthy best-selling crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is found dead on his 85th birthday party, Massachusetts detective Lt Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) and state trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) conclude from the crime scene that he committed suicide, cased closed. But renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) believes foul play is afoot, deducing that the renowned author was murdered in his own home, believing each Thrombey member to be a key suspect. Blanc (Daniel Craig) teams up with Thrombey’s nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) to try and unravel the mystery of the murder and solve the case; but is everything as clear cut as it seems?
Knives Out is an absolutely audacious but terrifically entertaining romp that’s filled with suspense and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout – especially when you think you’ve worked out what really happened that fateful night. The modern twist on the classic murder mystery genre was brilliant, especially with the added tongue in cheek references that included a brief flash of Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple in Murder, She Wrote and an obvious nod to Clue from state trooper Wagner. Cutting through the comedy, there’s also a sharp social commentary on America’s current immigration stance and political tensions which are brought to life through the Thrombeys. The privileged, white family supposedly accept Marta into the family, but none of them can correctly recall which South American country she’s actually from!
The film features a truly star studded ensemble cast who appear to have a ball revelling in their bombastic portrayals, but none more so than Daniel Craig and Chris Evans. Both actors have been playing the same serious roles for a while now, so it’s pretty refreshing to see both really let lose with their respective characters. Craig is hilarious as Benoit Blanc, a modern Hercule Poirot counterpart with a terribly over-the-top Southern drawl who possibly has the best line in the film comparing the case to a certain snack. Whereas Chris Evans’ Benoit Blanc is a rich freeloader who literally tells a whole load of his family to eat shit – language! Much like a live-action Cluedo, each Thrombey suspect is an eccentric character, with some more stereotypical than others. Johnson takes the time to introduce each major player and cleverly set up defined motives for each of the suspects thanks to some clever flashbacks and retellings of the evening, leading you to believe any of them could have done the foul deed.
Along with the incredible performances, David Crank and Jenny Eagan fantastically bring to life the creepy gothic mansion with lavish set production and costume design, harking back to mystery films of old. Particularly of note is the impressive Game of Thrones-esque mantelpiece composed of numerous knives which each family member is questioned next to – another nice nod to warring families over thrones!
Knives Out is a truly hilarious whodunnit that gives a heartfelt nod to the classic murder mysteries while cleverly subverting the tropes of the genre. If you’re a fan of Brick and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, this is definitely one for you!