Movie Review: Knives Out (2019)

Written, directed and produced by the divisive Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Knives Out is a 2019 murder mystery film, featuring an extensive ensemble cast. Following the death of the immensely wealthy Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) on the night of his 85th birthday, infamous private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is called upon to investigate. At the centre of Blanc’s investigation are Marta (Ana de Armas), Thrombey’s former nurse; Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Thrombey’s eldest daughter, and Richard (Don Johnson), Linda’s husband; Walt (Michael Shannon), heir to the Thrombey publishing empire; and Joni (Toni Collette), widow of Thrombey’s deceased son, as well as their extended family, including Linda and Richard’s spoiled son, Ransom (Chris Evans); Joni’s daughter, Meg (Katherine Langford); and Jacob (Jaeden Martell), Walt’s son.

+ there is a simply phenomenal ensemble cast. Craig, de Armas and Evans steal the show, as they are given the most scenes, including the most scenes together, but I also really enjoyed Michael Shannon, as I do in everything he is in, and Jamie Lee Curtis for the same reason. I am not a fan of Toni Collette, in general, but I enjoyed how much I didn’t like her here, because for once I don’t think I was meant to like her character
+ the film is shot somewhat like a game of Cludeo, highlighting various locales across the Thrombey estate, and replaying some scenes with changes, depending on the version of events recounted by characters. This made it a bit more fun to play along with, as if you yourself are part of the investigation
+ the mystery itself is somewhat engrossing, with plenty of twists, turns and red herrings, but truthfully I felt like the ending was incredibly obvious. Perhaps this was a case of ‘destination more important than the journey’, and rather than guessing ‘who’, we were meant to be guessing ‘why’. I mean, take a look at the cast, and make a guess – you’re probably correct

– disappointingly but expectedly, lots of the cast members are given very little to work with, particularly the younger members Langford (13 Reasons Why) and Martell (It). While the focus is more on the older members of the extensive family, there is some chemistry between the next generation, and I’d have liked to see them be more involved with the plot

> Frank Oz has a small-ish role, in a semi rare non puppet capacity. I am a fan of his comedy style, so this was a joy

Should you see this film: I liked this, but I have to say that the lack of a mystery (for me, at least) did lessen my enjoyment. The cast is great, the mystery itself is full of some twists and turns, and while the outcome itself is not fully satisfying, this is still a movie well worth seeing.

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