The whodunit genre seems to be making a comeback in 2019. Earlier this year we got Murder Mystery, the entertaining and silly Netflix film starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, and now we got Knives Out, Rian Johnson’s all-star follow-up to Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. With Knives Out, Johnson has crafted the most entertaining movie of 2019. A movie the grabs you from frame one and drags you to the edge of your seat until the final moments.
When Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a successful murder mystery author with a large fortune and brand, dies on the night of his birthday party, a party where he was surrounded by his family, a private detective named Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is hired to determine if the death was a suicide or if there was foul play involved.
This isn’t your typical whodunnit. Johnson has made a new kind of mystery for modern times. What Johnson does best is not save all the surprises for the very end. We are so used to the “big reveal” in the film’s finale of classic murder mysteries, but Johnson gives us that and much more. He fills Knives Out with constant big reveals, each being more and more surprising and each one adding new layers and twists to the already wild mystery at hand. You never know where this movie is going, whether it’s a new break in the case or . You don’t know anything about the characters and you cannot predict any of the twists and turns. Johnson Johnson couples this with perfectly balanced tonal shifts, wicked smart dialog, unique, fun characters, a snapshot of right-winged insanity, and some thrilling sequences of action.
Johnson assembles the best ensemble of 2019. This is a who’s who of talented, award winning actors all of whom bring their A-game. Along with Plummer, we got Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Riki Lindhome, Jaeden Martell, and Katherine Langford as the unhinged, bizarre family members of the Thrombey. Craig, Lakeith Stanfield, and Noah Sagen as the people hired to figure out what exactly happened here. And then there’s Ana de Armas as Marta, Harlan’s personal nurse who finds herself smack-dab in the middle of this all. Every actor is perfect, even if only on screen for a short amount of time. This is the kind of ensemble where your favorite performance will be different every viewing, and believe me, this is a movie you’ll want to watch again and again. As of this first viewing, my favorite performances in the film belong to Craig, de Armas, and Evans. de Armas is a star in the making. She acts as the surrogate for us throughout the movie. Everything she knows, we know and when she finds out something new, her reaction is the same as ours. It’s a wonderful performance from an actress with a bright future. Chris Evans plays the exact opposite character of Captain America, as his Ransom is a cocky and crass snob, yet someone you can’t help but be intrigued by. And Daniel Craig gives easily one of the best performances of his career as Benoit Blanc. Craig gives us a detective who knows he is great at his job, yet this bizarre family and these bizarre circumstances push him to the edge. Craig delivers this determination, confusion, and swagger perfectly. He also has an incredible accent that rivals Jon Hamm’s accent in Bad Times at the El Royale for best Foghorn Leghorn impersonation.
You won’t have more fun at the movies than you will in Knives Out. Explaining too much of the plot and what happens in this movie would ruin the fun. Rian Johnson has crafted a truly special film, with endless twists, turns, laughs, and shocks. I loved every second of this movie. It is one of the best movies of 2019 and further proof of how special of a filmmaker Rian Johnson is.
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