Knives Out is 130 minutes of Whodunnit starring a cast of seasoned performers like Daniel Craig, Chris Evens, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, et al. Written and directed by Rian Johnson it has the usual suspects; the director's trademark - darkly comedic capers, film noir influences, papers and notes, characters on the run, Steve Yedlin's cinematography, slow motion action, deep-focus staging, slapstick comedy and contemplative sunsets. Paying tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie, this is a fun, (in spite of its murderous storyline), modern-day murder mystery with a spattering of comedy, where everyone is a suspect.
Renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday. It looks like suicide, but there are some questions. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From devoted staff to Harlan's dysfunctional family, Blanc sifts through an enormous complicated web, filled with sticky situations. Fortunately, Blanc has a secret weapon with a built-in projectile.
The star of the show, Daniel Craig can never be accused of being pigeonholed or typecast. He has starred in diverse films; many of which push the envelope. Pairing up with Toni Collette in the past, one of my favourites is the highly unusual Hotel Splendide made 19 years ago. Together again, but not as love interests, this is Craig wearing yet another persona that is dogged and moves like clockwork. He's highly entertaining and a commanding presence that cannot be ignored.
The rest of the cast is like a who's who of movie stars. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Thrombey's daughter, a businesswoman, married to Don Johnson's character, and together they have an aimless and spoilt son played by Chris Evans. Her brother who runs the family publishing business is played by Michael Shannon who is married and has a son and Toni Collette plays Thrombey's widowed daughter-in-law who has a daughter. The heart of the film settles on Ana de Armas who plays Marta the nurse. Relatively unknown, she delivers completely and gives the rest of the cast a run for their money. Add to the mix devoted employees, a couple of detectives and a private investigator and you have an all-star cast that'll keep you entertained.
The cinematography, the palatial family home, the cast of characters, the mood of the film; it's all so mesmerising, engaging and highly entertaining, you'd be forgiven for forgetting to make 'whodunnit' the focus of your attention. Honestly, you'd be happy to just go along for the ride and be an observer to all the shenanigans that grabs your attention throughout the film.
The lavish gothic revival home sets the tone of the film, complete with menacingly madcap interiors. It's a balance between realism and an element of the theatrical that adds to the visual flavour of the film. The whole experience is an original and enjoyable ride with a bit of the hilarious along the way. There's also realism and no doubt many of us may well identify with the squabbling La Familia. There are many elements in the film that we deal with in our lives today, but Rian is a master at doing it in a way where you never stop feeling entertained.