Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis
Director: Rian Johnson
I think I’ve just about covered every genre this year with my reviews. From art house to action, from romance to revenge, I think I’ve covered just about everything. With the release of Knives Out, I think this is the year’s first real murder mystery, and man is it a good one. We’ve seen what Johnson can do as both a writer and director, and with a stacked cast like this one, he has all the power in the world to succeed here. Suspenseful, original, and biting, Knives Out spends 130 minutes making us think we know the whole story, but then realizing we were wrong the whole time.
The film follows the events of the Thrombey family and the death of Harlan (Christopher Plummer), the eldest member of their family. While police originally rule it a suicide, detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) is brought in to investigate Harlan’s death, he suspects someone may have murdered Harlan and everyone in the family is a suspect. With time of the essence, Blanc must use his wit and intelligence to find out the truth before the Thrombey fortune goes to the wrong person. As an ensemble performance, the cast of Knives Out each fill their role perfectly and understand exactly what their character should do given their circumstances. With a cast as deep as this one, it’s no surprise that almost every scene has the proper tone and understands where the movie is headed. I don’t know how Johnson got all of these huge actors to take smaller roles in this movie, but it really helps drive the impact and importance of every scene home. While the traditionally big stars do their job, Knives Out feels like a coming out party for de Armas who flourished in her first major movie role. As the only person in the house who isn’t a blood relative, she faces an additional set of pressure that nobody else being investigated has and de Armas is able to handle these scenes beautifully. Outside of the cast, the script allows Johnson to be as creative and artistic as possible and he takes full advantage of that time by showing us a smart, compelling movie. The jokes are intelligent, the characters are well-developed, and the plot is constructed in a way where you never really have a full understanding of what’s going on. Just when you think you have it figured out, the movie introduces a new piece of evidence that brings you back to square one. Johnson took the interesting concept surrounding Knives Out and developed it to a point where it ends up as one of the most captivating and interesting movies of the year. Very rarely do we see movies in this genre done so well and Knives Out shows that there’s still a demand and a desire for movies like this to be made. With some of the years that these actors have had, it feels fitting that they end up collaborating in one grand finale like Knives Out.
Overall, Knives Out has a level of creativity and uniqueness to carry it to where it needs to go, but also a level of quality to elevate it make it something that audiences will remember for quite some time after they finish watching. Johnson may have gotten some heat for what he did with his Star Wars movie, but Knives Out seems to be an area where his talents can flourish without the expectations of a rabid fanbase behind it. I think this is just the beginning for Johnson and I hope whatever he comes out with next is just as strong as Knives Out.
Overall Score: 8.5/10