Review by Gilberto Campa
Ever since his directorial debut in 2005 with the Neo-noir mystery film Brick, Rian Johnson has provided some of the most original and unique projects in cinema and television. Starting with Brick, there is a common theme with Johnson’s work that is unlike any other director working today. Each of his films takes an established genre (Noir, Science Fiction, Space Opera, and Comedy) and flips it’s on its head which offers not only a commentary on it, but also delivering a good movie that audiences enjoy. His latest film Knives Out tackles the mystery genre head on, which can sometimes be difficult to pull off depending on a multitude of factors.
What would eventually become Knives Out has been in Johnson’s head since 2010 before he started his work on Looper. Once again he returns to write, produce and direct this movie along with his main cinematographer Steve Yedlin. The simple (on paper) plot revolves around wealthy crime novelist Harian Thrombey (The Patriarch) played by Christopher Plummer, who invites his dysfunctional family over to his beautiful mansion for his 85th birthday party. As the night unfolds a murder occurs and EVERYONE in the family immediately becomes a suspect as to who killed Harian and why. Of course the major selling point and reason to see this film is due to one of the best ensemble casts that has been assembled in a while. If you are reading this and think that I am going to spoil the mystery as to who did the crime, then you are sadly mistaken. Movies like Knives Out are the reason that we all love the movie going experience and this is truly a film that needs to be seen in a theater and with a big audience. The rest of the Thrombey family take up the usual roles that a dysfunctional family has (trust fund playboy, the son in law, the favorite daughter, the lifestyle guru, and much more) but the cast that play those roles all shine in their own way and have enough time to express themselves. Outside of the family in question you also have the policeman and the private investigator that are doing the actual investigating.
Daniel Craig as renowned investigator Benoit Blanc is one of the many great parts of this movie as Craig (with his southern twang) gives an entertaining performance and keeps you guessing as what he is going to do next while he is trying to solve this mystery. This movie also has many laugh out loud moments and one liners that hit really well which was nice to see and did not feel out of place.Chris Evans also gave a really strong performance as well and got to do things character wise that were different than what he does as Captain America in his first big role post Avengers Endgame. Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lakeith Stanfield all deserve mention in addition to who I already covered before. But if I were to choose someone that stood out the most for me it would have to be the very talented Ana De Armas as Marta Cabrera (The Devoted Caretaker). Besides the murder mystery which is the main focus of the film, you also get to spend a lot of time with Marta as you see all of the craziness and emotional conflict that she goes through in dealing with what is going on. Hopefully this movie allows her to do more different and difficult roles so she can continue to grow as an actress because much of what she does in the movie was very fun to watch and experience. With Rian Johnson’s great storytelling and direction, completely captivating work from the ensemble cast and a unique twist on the mystery genre, Knives Out has a lot of good things working for it. I cannot wait to see this movie again and again.
The Verdict: 4/5 Stars