November 25, 2019

CINEMA | Daniel Craig Solves 'Knives Out' – A Joyful Whodunit

"You all love twisting the knife into one another."
Daniel Craig Chris Evans Ana de Armas Jamie Lee Curtis Don Johnson Rian Johnson | Knives Out

Talented filmmaker Rian Johnson returns to original storytelling for his cleverly fresh take on an Agatha Christie whodunit murder mystery detective story. Knives Out unfolds as a purely fun, ensemble picture about one truly awful (very rich and very white) extended family initially assembling for the birthday then unexpected subsequent funeral of the head of the family, an 85-year-old mystery novelist.

Starring Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas as the hammy, Southern hired private detective and heart-of-gold nurse to the deceased both trying to solve the possible murder of the Thrombey family patriarch (Christopher Plummer), Johnson has crafted a slickly-made crowdpleaser full of his usual filmmaking tricks. Craig is delightfully playful and chewing the scenery as he's clearly relishing the fun material. De Armas is perfectly cast as the well-meaning outsider trying to do right.

Scene stealers Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, and Chris Evans as extended family members with Lakeith Stanfield as the by-the-books police investigator round out the killer cast. All ham it up with Evans really going toe-to-toe with Craig and de Armas as he revels in playing an absolute rich dick who enters the film late to spoil the whole affair.

Daniel Craig Rian Johnson | Knives Out

Johnson uses familiar yet knowing genre film troupes to skewer white privilege and entitlement in a tightly constructed package where the joy comes from the unfolding of the mysteries and not the mysteries themselves. Relevant issues of illegal immigration, racial tension, and inherited wealth are deftly inserted into the plot to slyly take down the ideas of white power structures in society covered through popular entertainment.

Everyone is firing at full-strength enhancing the thrills and comedy of the film's searing momentum. Full of pop culture references and contemporary touchpoints, Johnson is in full control every step of the way as he purely calculates each scene to the satisfying (and hilariously convoluted) resolution in here high genre fashion.

Knives Out is flat-out cinematic fun and Johnson knows exactly what he's doing. He zigs and zags through his joyfully twisty detective thriller even going to lengths to make the central murder mystery irrelevant halfway through the film in order to preserve your sense of enjoyment. It's a thrilling ride full of genuine laughs and more than a few surprises.

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