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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: Wicked, mysterious fun for "Knives Out"

Nov 27, 2019 04:22PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Daniel Craig in Knives Out - © 2019 Lionsgate.

Knives Out (Lionsgate)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material.

Starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer, K Callan, Riki Lindhome, Noah Segan, Edi Patterson, Frank Oz, M. Emmet Walsh.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson.



I like a good “whodunnit,” even when you can figure out the crime before the movie ends. There’s a lot to like about Knives Out, a new dark comedy written and directed by Rian Johnson, so without any spoilers, I will attempt to uncover the movie’s mysterious appeal.

It’s the story of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a successful mystery novelist celebrating his 85th birthday inside his palatial east coast estate. In the early morning hours following the celebration, Harlan is found dead in an attic office, apparently dead from a self-inflicted stab wound to the neck. As police are about to wrap up what seems like a cut and dried case, a mysterious private investigator named Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), shows up and begins to ask more detailed questions. Since everyone is a suspect, Harlan’s family members shoot right to the top of the list including his daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her husband Richard (Don Johnson), along with their playboy son Ransom (Chris Evans). The other family members at the top of Det. Blanc’s list are Harlan’s son Walter (Michael Shannon) and his son Jacob (Jaeden Martell, along with Harlan’s daughter Joni (Toni Collette) and her daughter Megan (Katherine Langford). Rounding out the list of prime suspects are housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) and especially Harlan’s personal nurse Marta (Ana de Armas), around whom the entire investigation surrounds since she was apparently the last person to see the old man alive. Det. Blanc’s investigation is supported and observed by local police Lt. Eliot (Lakeith Stanfield) and his partner, Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan). Any other description would give away spoilers, so I’ll suggest you see for yourself how the whole rotten family dynamic plays out as the truth behind Harlan’s death is revealed.

Knives Out is a great comedy and a fairly clever mystery, even if you’re able to pick up on some of the clues and get a pretty good idea as to “whodunnit” before the end of the film. The ensemble cast is brilliant, with perfect timing and chemistry, portraying a quirky, flawed family of misfits. Special praise goes to Chris Evans as the spoiled brat heir with the sharp tongue, complemented in no small part by Rian Johnson’s fantastic, whimsical script. Daniel Craig is also brilliant portraying the protagonist detective with folksy, southern charm, in contrast with the snobby heirs of the Thrombey family. Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and Michael Shannon are perfectly fitted for their roles as parasitic offspring, serving up a symphony of dysfunctional laughs. 

There are laughs and intrigue hidden around every corner of Knives Out, just like the Thrombey mansion with all its gothic charms. The big reveal is especially worth the journey, the result of a slow burn and a unique “punchline” that is set up in the first scene and paid off with a powerful, clever finish. Simply put, Knives Out is a true bit of wicked fun.

"Knives Out" Trailer