Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Frank Oz
Written by: Rian Johnson
Running Time: 130 mins
Release date: 27th November 2019
Writer and director took a heavy beating from fanboys after the Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, with a series of threats and insults that were totally unnecessary and could have put him off movie making for good. Instead, Johnson has bounced back with this year’s most fun you could have in a cinema. A classic whodunit for the 21st century that is smart, gripping and very, very funny. Plus he has a cast to die for.
Crime novelist Harlan Thrombey has got his family together for his 85th birthday celebration, then commits suicide. A week later, the family regather for the reading of his will, but they have unexpected visitors in the form of the police and renowned private detective, Benoit Blanc. At first, he is just a curious guest invited by a mysterious client. Still, it soon becomes apparent that Harlan’s dysfunctional family all have a motive for murder, and he has to shift through the various lies and red herrings to get to the bottom of the case.
Starting off with a message from the director, asking the audience not to reveal whodunit, we see a gothic-looking house with a collection of knives in a display and copies of novels by the same author. The stage is set like you’ve wandered onto the set of The Mousetrap. We then slowly start to meet the key players: the family, the detectives, the private eye and the nurse, who, it turns out, plays the most significant part of all. Having looked after Harlan, Marta is regarded as part of the family but only in words.
As the investigation begins and the family are interrogated, we understand that each of the family may have a motive. From the son-in-law who is maybe straying, to the son who wants Harlan’s publishing empire to the daughter who has fraudulently stolen money to the grandson who hates his family. As Blanc picks through the clues, you start to understand that there is more to these people than meet the eye. When the will is read, and a shock announcement is revealed, the plot becomes increasingly twisted.
Johnson has fun creating a mix of the sinister atmosphere while still paying tribute to the style of an Agatha Christie novel. At the same time, the film is littered with cracking lines and huge laughs, some bigger than most comedies this year. Johnson has also written a script that has characters you care for and, for whatever they have done, you don’t mind spending time with them.
The cast all seem to be having a blast, each allowed time to chew the scenery and have their moments. Daniel Craig, sporting a Southern American accent, has never been so much fun. As the detective, he delivers each line as if he had been watching A Streetcar Named Desire far too many times. It’s Craig at his most relaxed. Chris Evans, fresh from handing over the Captain America shield, is a blast as the grandson with an attitude, a total departure from his Marvel days. Ana de Armas is delightful as Marta, who plays such an essential part among these big players and handles the starring role well.
Knives Out is just what cinema should be, a thoroughly entertaining concoction of thrills, spills and giggles. It’s a joy to watch so many people have the time of their lives, and it becomes infectious to the audience too. The final reveal is utterly satisfying, and it has possibly the best last shot in any film this year. I loved it.