MOVIE: KNIVES OUT

STARRING: DANIEL CRAIG; ANA DE ARMAS; MICHAEL SHANNON; JAMIE LEE CURTIS; TONI COLETTE

DIRECTED BY: RIAN JOHNSON

AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)

After making a Star Wars movie, one would think a director would become calloused to the negative backlash and accustomed to making movies that need massive special effects, but you would be thinking of someone other than Rian Johnson. This is someone who seems to absorb negative opinions and use them as fuel, where he places that energy into fresh and fantastic cinema. Knives Out is arguably the most entertaining movie of 2019 (alongside Ford v Ferrari), while also being ridiculously original. It is a throwback to the Agatha Christie “whodunit” style picture, with a massive cast of great actors, plenty of twists of mystery, murder, and filled to the brim with character. Knives Out is a razor sharp movie, directed by one of Hollywood's more brilliant artists in Rian Johnson.  

Knives Out

It's possible to write multiple, full length reviews on each individual character that we meet in Knives Out. The cast is massive, but what's most impressive about this film is the collaboration, the combo of perfect actors, aligned with a perfect writer. The setting is the Thrombey estate, with the entire Thrombey family gathered for a big announcement. Now, the lead actor might be Daniel Craig, as a Kentucky fried voiced detective Benoit Blanc, but it's actually Ana de Armas' reluctant, “cannot tell a lie” house assistant Marta. Her employment shoulders her with the responsibility of taking care of the wealthy, elder statesman, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). She's a nobody really, an immigrant taking care of her mother and sister at home, but the story focuses on her, and just about everyone else, as a suspect when old Harlan is suddenly found dead in his study with his throat slit. Murder? Suicide? Coincidence? As Benoit Blanc says, “I suspect foul play. I have eliminated no suspects.”

The rest of the cast is predominantly family members, some bitter, some ignorant, some aloof, others just leaching onto the wealth of the old man. Jamie Lee Curtis is the elder daughter Linda, with her lecherous husband Richard Drysdale played by Don Johnson; there's younger son Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon bringing his typical A-game), Toni Collette as as a daughter in-law that has latched on, long after her husbands passing, and then there is nephew Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans as a cocky playboy) who hates everyone, but loves the wealth. Collectively they are a dysfunctional group, each one capable of being the killer. The only difference is that Rian Johnson is not interested in keeping us guessing. He's interested in letting us know exactly who the killer is and then unraveling more mystery after that fact. That's more than part of the fun, seeing how each personality plays a role, with only one being the possible killer.

It's not right to reveal more plot and there's nothing better than blindly following Benoit Blanc along in his pursuit of justice. That's what makes Knives Out so entertaining. It's a mixture of originality and classic styles of past Hollywood capers. The Thrombey mansion is a character in itself, filled with hidden rooms, rich wood railings, and rooms that look like a place where Professor Plum would have committed a murder. Rian Johnson once again proves that he's better than many directors working today, in fact, he has yet to make a movie that I didn't like. Knives Out is so good that if you don't go and see it in theaters, that alone would be a crime. Don't be a suspect.

3 ½ STARS

Written by: Leo Brady
leo@amovieguy.com