The murder-mystery is a type of story that has been around for almost as long as cinema itself. Despite this, in recent years there has been a lack of original stories within this movie genre – or so critics thought, until the release of “Knives Out” on Nov. 27.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson (“Looper,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”), the film has been described as a modern take on the whodunit. Suffice to say, Johnson has revitalized the genre with this film, creating a mystery that will have audiences laughing and on the edge of their seats as they watch the movie unfold.
The film takes place after the apparent suicide of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a critically acclaimed mystery novelist. His family reunites in his manor in order to mourn his death, but events take a turn for the worst when private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is sent to investigate.
Blanc suspects that foul play was what led to Thrombey’s death, and he steps up to the task in order to find out who killed Thrombey and how they did it. With suspects including Harlan’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), his son Walt (Michael Shannon) and his personal nurse Marta (Ana de Armas), tensions rise as Blanc races to discover the culprit before they can get away with murder or commit more crimes.
The first thing most people will notice about “Knives Out” is its all-star cast. Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Colette are just some of the many successful actors within this movie. As expected, everyone in the movie acts incredibly well here, with Craig, Evans and Armas being particular standouts. They provide tension to the plot when needed and subsequently create a large amount of humor with their attitudes and line delivery.
The film’s witty dialogue creates humor due to the actors’ performances, and several jokes will be ingrained into viewers’ minds to cause laughter to continue even after the jokes end. Every actor in the movie gives memorable performances, and audiences will remember every character in the movie long after the credits roll.
As for its script, every part of it feels well-thought-out and unconventional. A whodunit is only as good as the crime and its execution, and every aspect of the film’s mystery subverts expectations. From the culprit to how the crime was committed, every turn the film takes will leave audiences taken aback by the directions Rian Johnson decides to take with the story, wanting to know where the story will go next. So many story elements are set up early on and are properly utilized later that it may take several re-watches in order to catch them all.
There are some aspects that are worth criticism. There are some characters who only exist to be used as comedic material or to advance the plot. While they certainly have well-acted performances behind them, it felt like there was wasted potential with how little they were used in the film. Despite that nitpick, there are little to no explicit flaws with the movie itself.
“Knives Out” is a film that shows how the whodunit format can still lead to incredible stories in modern times. The all-star cast delivers stellar performances, the jokes within the film all land, and the mystery itself is filled with unpredictability. Rian Johnson has created one of 2019’s best films, all while creating his own detective figure in Benoit Blanc, a name that has the potential to cement itself as one of the great detectives of modern cinema.