Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer
Released: 27th November 2019 (UK)
Inspired by the murder mystery novels of Agatha Christie, Director Rian Johnson takes a break from his Star Wars duties to deliver a deliciously devious and genuinely entertaining whodunnit with a modern twist.
With a strong ensemble cast fully on-board from the get-go, Knives Out kicks off in the immediate aftermath of the death of Harlen Thrombey (Plummer), a renowned crime novelist, whose eccentric family all become suspects of debonair detective Benoit Blanc’s (Craig) investigation.
While Knives Out follows a relatively standard narrative, Johnson takes great delight in pulling the rug from underneath the audience on a number of occasions – shifting the blame from one family member to another – whilst keeping the narrative fresh and flowing. While the whole set-up feels like a cinematic version of the boardgame Cluedo, the characters that inhabit this world are equally cunning as they are hilarious.
In typical Jamie Lee Curtis fashion, she is effortless as she takes centre-stage in the opening third as Linda a’self-made’ successful business woman with a need for everyone to know that. Michael Shannon is the under-achieving son who feels his ideas are always ignored. Toni Collette is the widow still relying on her husband’s family to pay for her bills and Chris Evans is the spoilt trust fund kid who has never had to work a day in his life thanks to his family’s fortune.
With a cast this big, it can be easy to become carried away focusing on each individual in too much depth, yet Johnson masterfully lets the story simmer, allowing each zany character and their dysfunctional family dynamics to provide the laughs whilst Blanc and the family nurse Marta steer the narrative towards the big reveal.
The film excels though in mixing the black comedy with the genuine intrigue of wanting to see the reveal. Finding that balance is key and it delivers both elements wonderfully. Johnson has proven once again why he is a man to be trusted behind the camera and, while his Star Wars outing may have been a source for much contention, his standalone projects continue to be high quality, thoroughly entertaining affairs. Knives Out kills it to become easily one of this years most enjoyable films.