Well, that was fun.
“Knives Out” is the (fairly) new dramatic crime thriller from writer-director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”). The movie also incorporates bits of dark and twisted humor – which is exactly how I like my comedy – and an ongoing element of mystery that keeps its audience fully engaged.
On the night of his 85th birthday, esteemed crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies. Enter Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, meow!), with his analytical mind, a judging gaze, and that “Kentucky-fried Foghorn Leghorn drawl.”
Without question, Detective Blanc thinks something is fishy about Harlan’s death.
“I suspect foul play,” he says.
And, with the help of Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), Detective Blanc proceeds to question the estate’s staff and, one-by-one, the members of Harlan’s unstable, self-absorbed family.
Blanc’s hope? To see through the smoke screens and beyond the distractions to find out what really happened to Harlan Thrombey.
If you’re paying attention, you know something is up from the moment each family member – including daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis); son-in-law Richard (Don Johnson); son Walt (Michael Shannon); and grandchildren Ransom (Chris Evans), Meg (Katherine Langford), and Jacob (Jaeden Martell) – is seated for the inquisition.
Those close-up shots almost scream deception. And the slow zooms and pull backs as each character recalls the events of the evening in question hint that what we’re hearing and seeing may not entirely be the truth.
Director Johnson shuffles in helpful flashbacks that crisscross the storyline and help fill in the events we didn’t see that led up to the outcome serving as the film’s crux.
Either nothing or everything is exactly what it seems. And as Detective Blanc attempts to uncover the mystery, the audience is right there with him.
“Knives Out” is an unpredictable yet delightful shell game.
The storyline is a magician’s pursuit that keeps its audience disoriented and speculating and hanging on every word, sound, movement, or glance. Everything could be a clue – or a diversion.
If you haven’t yet seen this flick, I highly recommend giving it a look. If you have seen it, I’d suggest watching this fun, shrewd puzzle again – to take notice of all the pieces that are hiding in plain sight.