When eccentric novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) suddenly dies right after his 85th birthday, his family is left clamoring for his hefty fortune. Renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously hired to look into the possible murder and as he investigates, plenty of secrets and lies are exposed. From family members to house staff – no one is without motive, however Blanc is determined to uncover the truth of what really happened to Harlan.
Knives Out features a fun, colorful cast of characters who are well written and well executed onscreen.
Blanc is stylish and intuitive, piecing the story along faster than anyone else, the police included. While it was odd at first seeing 007 in such a different setting, I must admit that he was entertaining and helped make Knives Out so much fun. Craig supplies Blanc with a slow Southern drawl that is honestly comical at times. It earns him the nickname “Colonel Sanders” along with a few other jabs, but the character always appears non-fazed.
Because so many of Harlan’s family members have obvious motives and reasons why they feel entitled to an inheritance, it’s difficult to hone in on the culprit(s). Just as the tagline reads, “any of them could have done it.” Everyone is hiding something from the detective as well as one another. There’s Harlan’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is arguably the most successful having made a name for herself in business, her philandering husband Richard (Don Johnson), and their spoiled playboy son Ransom (Chris Evans).
Linda’s dopey brother Walt (Michael Shannon) has a chip on his shoulder and resents growing up in Harlan’s shadow, while Joni (Toni Collette), the wife of Harlan’s late son, has an appetite for the finer things in life for herself and her daughter Meg (Katherine Langford).
Then there’s the housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) and Harlan’s nurse Marta, who is very timid and shy (Ana de Armas). de Armas in particular was beautifully cast and she gives an excellent performance. Marta is a great foil/contrast to the people in Harlan’s family. She is hard-working, honest, and values her friendship with the billionaire novelist. During Blanc’s investigation, he enlists Marta as his “Watson” and she helps him solve clues along the way.
The writing is slick, nothing is predictable about the script, not even for a moment, and the plot twists are undoubtedly creative. Writer and director Rian Johnson is clearly having a moment right now. Audiences are loving this film and for good reason. The numbers don’t lie.
There was one thing in particular that really amazed me in regards to the story, but it’s a huge spoiler so I’ll just say that there aren’t many movies in this genre that reveal something so key to the ending, so early in a movie. In some small way, the reveal makes audiences feel complicit in the actual crime.
Knives Out is a classic whodunnit with an all-star cast. It’s a little reminiscent of Clue and Agatha Christie and kept me guessing until the very end. If you enjoy mysteries, it’s a must-see!
Knives Out is still playing in many theaters across the U.S. Catch it soon before it leaves!
I was reminded of another great crime mystery that came out in theaters a couple years ago called Murder on the Orient Express. While the characters were less zany and the crime more complex, it does feature another detective extraordinaire. Do you have a favorite murder mystery? A novel or movie that you never tire of? Mine is definitely the 1985 movie Clue. Tell me all about your faves down in the comments below!