knives out

★★★★★

DIRECTOR: rian johnson (star Wars episode vii: the last Jedi, looper)
starring: daniel craig, ana de armas, jamie lee curtis, and chris evans

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Star Wars fans fall into one of two categories. They looooooove anything and everything that is official Star Wars or they absolutely hate and wish death upon those who dare to slightly deviate from what they expected or imagined. I’m a Star Wars fan (just to clarify, I don’t like everything Star Wars) yet really enjoyed what Rian Johnson did with Last Jedi. I thought it was a fresh, bold, new direction. And that's what Rian Johnson is: a fresh and bold director. In Knives Out he is set loose to play and he delivers one of the year’s best films. 

 

When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan's dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan's untimely death. 

 

They don’t make movies like this anymore. Sure they made Death on the Orient Express but that’s a title that’s from a world renowned author with an already formed fan base. They don’t make movies with a big old ensemble cast, a fresh, new tale, and a real classic whodunnit. Those kind of stories are left to TV’s Sunday night theatre. 

 

In a year when it seems that superheroes, sequels, and franchise films (which I largely love; don’t start writing complaint emails) have dominated the silver screen Knives Out is as much as a breath of fresh air as Ford V Ferrari. For the sake of having a variety of stories on at your local cinema head out and support this film. But also go because you will be absolutely entertained. 

 

The story begins to unfurl like any whodunnit film. Pretty stock standard. But as it pulls you in you begin to expect certain things from the story. But it turns those expectations right on its head. Which has the possibility of befuddling you and expecting more for a little too longer than necessary, but then it aptly pulls you back into the story and hits you with its brilliant narrative killer blow. 

 

Which shows why Rian Johnson, who also wrote Knives Out, is such a brilliant storyteller. He takes a genre, with all of your expectations, and shakes them around, turns them upside down, and then genuinely surprises you. Check out his other films Looper and The Brothers Bloom. Both brilliant. 

 

Johnson also includes wonderfully timed and up roaringly hilarious comedic moments into the film that had the audience I watched it with in stitches. The whole ensemble cast is incredible and Christopher Plummer, for his brief time of screen, aptly shows that he’s still got it. Chris Evans character is brilliant in all of his nasty entitled narcissistic behaviour. Very far from Captain America indeed. 

 

But this film belongs to Daniel 'Mr. Bond' Craig and Ana de Armas who will soon be back together again in Craig’s last Bond outing No Time To Die. In Logan Lucky (check it out too, its brilliant too) Craig completely disappeared into that role and became the living, breathing flesh and blood Joe Bang, his character in that film. 

 

When you first see him in Knives Out you think, “There’s James Bond” but from the moment he opens his mouth with that smooth as honey Southern drawl you completely forget that Craig was Bond or that its even Craig. Detective Benoit Blanc stands before you and he’s slightly eccentric, hilarious, but absolutely brilliant at the craft of detection and solving murders. I only hope we see Detective Benoit Blanc again. 

 

While Craig provides the flair and the humour, Ana de Armas is the heart of the film. In a family of privilege she is the help, the outsider, and the immigrant. If you hadn’t heard of her before Knives Out you won’t forget her. She is completely out of this world superb. 

 

If you like big, ensemble casts watch Knives Out. If you like whodunit mysteries watch Knives Out. If you just want to be entertained drop everything and go see Knives Out. You will be very entertained indeed.

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