Rian Johnson has veered from nerd hero with Looper to nerd villain with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but what both films had in common was Johnson’s own sense of what makes a genre interesting and him stamping his own mark on the genre. With Looper he redefined the time travel and consequences film by making Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis wear a weird prosthetic nose while living the same life and trying to change their own future and past. The latter film, well, let’s say that his interpretation of the mythos resonated with critics and some fans, while angering many, many others.
With Knives Out, Johnson turns his eye toward the venerable country estate murder mystery, popularised by Agatha Christie. With a star-studded cast gathered at the mansion of famous mystery author Harlan Thromby for his eighty fifth birthday, the scene is set for a murder that only the famous detective Benoit Blanc can solve.
The plot is simple – Harlan Thromby, the patriarch of the Thromby clan, dies on the night of his birthday party. What is initially assumed to be a suicide, is suspected to be a murder mainly because Benoit Blanc is hired by a mysterious benefactor to investigate. Just like his inspiration, Hercule Poirot, he knows something is amiss but just cannot pinpoint what and through interviews, and the exercising of his little grey cells, to borrow a phrase, he unravels the mystery. And just like Poirot he hauls a sidekick along, the sympathetic Marta, Harlan’s nurse and friend.
To reveal more risks moving this review into spoiler territory, but the plot is honestly secondary to the characters and the excellent performances by the cast. Joining Daniel Craig as Blanc is Jamie Lee Curtis as Linda Thromby and Michael Shannon as Walt Thromby, Harlan’s two surviving children. They in turn are supported by Toni Collette as Joni Thromby, a version of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop entrepreneur and Harlan’s daughter in law and a great cameo performance by Don Johnson as Linda’s husband, Richard. Of the remaining family members, the only one of real consequence is Chris Evans’ Ransom Thromby, the grandson. The standout performer and true star of the film is Ana de Armas as Marta. The film focuses almost exclusively on her and her inability to lie; she throws up whenever she lies, making her the perfect foil for Blanc.
The standout performer and true star of the film is Ana de Armas as Marta.
Craig is having a ball playing the detective...
The setups of the previous acts aren’t fully realised as if Johnson had no way of actually paying off those twists.
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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