A welcome reminder that mainstream movies don't need explosions or superpowers to be deliriously entertaining, this darkly comedic ensemble mystery thriller is a blockbuster of acting chemistry and cinematic wit.
Christopher Plummer plays novelist Harlan Thrombey, the head of a large family coasting on the privilege his success affords them. When Harlan suddenly dies, famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) unexpectedly arrives to investigate what initially doesn't seem like a murder at all. But it was, and almost every one of Harlan's extended brood had a believable motivation for offing him.
You don't need to be a fan of the classic 1970s/Agatha Christie-style whodunnit to enjoy Knives Out, but if you are, you'll get a particular kick out of it. This was clearly made by a devotee of the form.
However, much more so than Kenneth Branagh with his 2017 remake of Murder on the Orient Express, Knives Out writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) is interested in pushing the boundaries of this somewhat forgotten genre. For all its reverence for what has come before, this is a very modern film with very modern concerns.
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Many of those concerns centre around Marta (Ana de Armas), Harlan's devoted nurse, who becomes the immediate prime suspect. It's a star-making role for the Chilean De Armas, who somehow shines even brighter than all the glittering Hollywood talent surrounding her.
Indeed, all the actors are clearly having the time of their lives, especially Chris Evans, who demonstrates a heretofore underexploited gift for jerkiness. Nobody in the expansive ensemble lets the side down.
This is a must-see for anyone who likes good movies, but it's a massive treat for those who believe a whodunnit should prominently feature wool cardigans.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans. Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette
Director: Rian Johnson
Running Time: 130 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: The most fun you'll have in a movie theatre this year.