Knives Out is a new whodunnit murder mystery film from Rian Johnson. Taking the mold of those classic Agatha Christie detective stories, but in the setting of modern day America Rian Johnson has crafted something that not only fits in fantastically with the genre whilst updating it for the modern age, but also made one of the most entertaining films of the year.
The film stars Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc, a private investigator who is hired by an anonymous party to investigate the death of the wealthy novelist Harlan Thrombey who dies following a birthday party attended by his rich and entitled family and Harlan’s nurse Marta, who becomes violently sick if she tries to lie. Harlan’s death appears to be a suicide, but given his mystery hiring Blanc becomes suspicious and recurits Marta to help him with the investigation. It is the kind of classic setup to a whodunnit, and thankfully Johnson has crafted an incredibly satisfying and well told story around that. The way he chooses to reveal information throughout the film is genius and unusual for this kind of mystery film. He lays out all the clues for you to work out what is happening in the end, but it is still an extremely satisfying end.
On top of the excellent narrative that Johnson sculpted he packed the film with plenty of humour. Whilst many places don’t necessarily list the film as a comedy it is one of the most genuinely funny films of the year. In large part that is down to Johnson’s script, but huge credit also has to go to the cast as well. Daniel Craig is hamming it up, and looks as though he’s having an absolute blast to be making the film, something we haven’t had a lot of recently. Similarly Christopher Evans as Harlan’s spoiled grandson Ransom is a joy to watch every time he’s on screen. The rest of the cast is stacked with talent including Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, and Toni Collette. No one in the cast disappoints, and everyone gets some moment to shine, even if the focus is really on Craig and de Armas.
It is hard to say too much about Knives Out without giving much away, but it was a genuinely brilliant cinematic experience, at least on the first watch. I haven’t yet seen it a second time to see if it still holds up as strongly when you know the narrative, which can be a weakness with whodunnits, but it was such a blast I believe that there will be rewatch value there.