‘Knives Out’ review: A finely flavoured cocktail of genres, with a hysterical Daniel Craig

This image released by Lionsgate shows Daniel Craig, from left, Chris Evans, Noah Segan and Lakeith Stanfield in a scene from

This image released by Lionsgate shows Daniel Craig, from left, Chris Evans, Noah Segan and Lakeith Stanfield in a scene from "Knives Out."   | Photo Credit: AP


An old fashioned Agatha Christie-like whodunnit gets updated to also talk cheekily about a contemporary issue or two

Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is a finely flavoured cocktail of genres. On the one hand it’s an old fashioned, classic murder mystery of the Agatha Christie-kind, relocated to America (with a nod to Angela Lansbury and the Murder, She Wrote TV series). At another it’s a hugely enjoyable comedy and then also a razor-sharp satire on the tunnel vision of the elite, how they can’t look beyond their own privileged nose.

Knives Out
  • Director: Rian Johnson
  • Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Colette, Christopher Plummer, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Storyline: The patriarch of Thrombey family is murdered on the night of his 85th birthday celebrations and all those present at the party turn suspects

Mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) invites his highly dysfunctional family to his home for his 85th birthday celebration and is murdered that very night. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives at the scene of crime and has a ready set of suspects to kick off his investigation. Is it Thrombey’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her husband Richard (Don Johnson) who are into real estate business or is it his publisher son Walt (Michael Shannon) or the widowed daughter in law Joni (Toni Colette)? Then there is also Thrombey’s trusted nurse Marta (Ana de Armas) who has a serious aversion towards lying. Each has some secrets hidden away and a motive to bump off the old man. There is cheating and deceptions galore, both on the personal and professional fronts, some morphine on the side, a ransom note, Thrombey’s collection of knives and his signature coffee cup that states "My House, My Rules, My Coffee". And, of course, certainly not to forget, the proverbial pot of gold — Thrombey’s will.

All the expected whodunnit tropes are nicely and tightly knit together with a stately mansion and its hounds providing just the right backdrop. Mild twists and turns keep the audience guessing and lead up to a resolution that is at best satisfying than truly edge of the seat or shocking. The stellar, starry ensemble is in good form and also seems to be having fun, as though they were all on an outing than on the sets. It holds specially true of the deliberately over-the-top and seemingly non-serious Daniel Craig whose detective is as much about wit and wisdom as frivolity, and is forever debonair. Not only does he sport an obviously worked-at Southern accent, he also gets to mouth the most hysterical lines, be they to do with the hole in the doughnut or the dumbest car chase.

Most distinctive, however, is a very contemporary irreverence that informs the plot, casually so, be it to do with internet trolling, online influencers or, most significantly, immigrant politics. It’s hard to imagine that refugee culture and lives in exile could be turned into fodder for a cheeky, laugh out loud, running joke through the film, at the expense of the bubble of a life of the upper crust and the ignoramuses of the Donald Trump ilk. Now giving away any more of that would be the real spoiler.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 4:22:09 AM |

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