Knives out is one of those rare occasions when I went in having no real expectation for the film. I knew it was a murder mystery directed by The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson, and that Daniel Craig was in it. I love the idea of the genre, but I find it’s very rarely done well. 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express did it quite well, but that film missed the mark a little with me.
First off, bravo to whoever managed to get such a talent packed cast. Christopher Plumber, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Collette are all key members of the cast and to get a group so talented together to play characters in a whodunit is a master stroke. Top of the bill is Daniel Craig, and he clearly loved playing this quirky role. The accent is a little bit jarring at first, but once I had adjusted my ears to his voice, I thought he smashed this role out of the park. I think for him these quirkier fun roles are what he wants to be doing, hence his reluctance to continue as Bond where he must be the straight man and can’t let that side of him out.
He doesn’t quite take the top spot performance wise for me though, that is reserved for the rising star of Ana de Armas. I checked on IMDB to see where I recognised her from, and she was in Blade Runner 2049 where I remembered enjoying what she did there. She is playing Norma Jean in the movie “Blonde” based on the real life of Marilyn Monroe next year, and if Knives Out is anything to go by, that film will be a fantastic watch. Her character is central to the events of this film, and in a film full of questionable people, she appears to be the one ray of shining light.
It’s very hard to go into any of the performances without venturing into spoiler territory, and this is one film that you do not want spoiled before you see it. I remember Murder of the Orient Express frustrating me because it was an impossible mystery to figure out without the exposition of Poirot, the detective. In Knives Out, you are quite brilliantly given every piece of evidence, every thread you need to knit together the answer. This is fantastic as it adds another element to the film, and I found myself actively looking around the scenes for clues.
I managed to piece together a large chunk of the mystery before it was revealed on screen, and whilst that gave me some satisfaction, at first, I felt a little disappointed. Thinking about it on the way home, I realised what I said above about everything being there, and that kind of being part of the fun of watching this film. You’re supposed to guess along and see how close you get. I am always looking for potential twists in any film, I don’t think that’s something everyone does, but it helped me to piece together some bits and bobs.
Director Rian Johnson got a lot of mixed reactions to his last film, which is to be expected with the things he attempted to do within the confines of a Star Wars film. Here he seems like he’s enjoyed the ability to craft his own story entirely and not have to pick up an already partially told story and carry it on. He strikes me as a film maker who perhaps suits doing his own thing better than jumping into a franchise like the Star Wars Saga films, and that’s from me, someone who enjoys The Last Jedi.
Knives Out is probably the best whodunit film I have seen, although I must confess, I haven’t seen a lot of them. It’s got a dark sense of humour which got me giggling a few times, and the mystery elements are all there to have fun with. There are a couple of the plot reveals that fall a little flat but that is possibly because they were telegraphed a little too much but overall, I really did enjoy this film.
Good: All the performances are great; it’s shot beautifully and piecing together the mystery is a great part of it.
Bad: A little too easy in parts to guess certain elements. Daniel Craig’s accent will put off someone I am sure.
9/10 – Whodunit? Rian Johnson did it.