Reel Reviews | Knives Out

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

The murder mystery genre gets a delightful punch in Knives Out.

Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is the most prolific murder mystery writer in the world.  He puts out two books a year and has a fortune of millions.  His children and grandchildren reap the benefits of his success.  One morning, after a blow-out party the night before, Harlan is found dead in his study after a seemingly successful suicide attempt.  Strangely, the famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is hired anonymously to investigate the circumstances surrounding the suicide.  One by one, the family is questioned to determine their culpability, if any. 

Knives Out is written and directed Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) and star Plummer and Craig with Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, and Chris Evans. 

Johnson has truly created an exciting twist on the murder mystery genre with this movie.  The biggest surprise is that almost from the beginning you know who the killer is (or so you are led to believe).  Johnson’s screenplay is deliciously twisted, full of red herrings and chocked full of comedic gold.  This is a story that would rival the best of the great Agatha Christie.  Kenneth Branagh assembled a cast of stars for his 2017 production of the Christie classic Murder On The Orient Express and Johnson has assembled his own all-star cast.  However, where The Orient Express was cold and unmoving, Knives Out is an all-out romp through the woods. 

Every member of the cast is fantastic.  Jamie Lee Curtis plays the daughter of Harlan, Linda Drysdale and Michael Shannon plays Harlan’s son, Walt.  Don Johnson’ Richard Drysdale is married to Linda and Chris Evans is their son, Ransom.  Toni Collette is Walt’s ex-wife Joni and Katherine Langford is Meg, Walt and Joni’s daughter.  Now that we have all that out of the way, Ana de Armas is the centerpiece of the movie.  Her role as Marta, Harlan’s nurse, and best friend, who gets physically ill when she tells a lie, is the driving force for the movie.  de Armas plays the innocent victim thrust into the middle of the family drama and is forced to stand up to the villainous, duplicitous and deceitful people who consider her a member of the family.  She stands up well against the whole cast and holds her own.

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references and drug material, Knives Out is a super-cool, super-fun dive into the murder mystery genre.  Johnson’s vision and execution of every element of the movie are perfect and sets the bar for every murder mystery from henceforth.  Death on the Nile you have been served.

Grade:  A