If you’ve seen any movie in cinemas at the end of last year, you may have seen the trailer for a movie called “Knives Out”. That’s exactly what happened when I went to see the last installment (for now, at least) of the Star Wars saga, “The Rise of Skywalker” – funnily enough, Knives Out is directed by Star Wars alum Ryan Johnson. The movie presents itself as a “whodunnit”, in the style of Agatha Christie novels, i.e “Murder on the Orient Express”, and features a star-studded cast, with the likes of Daniel Craig (007 himself), Chris Evans (Captain America of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Ana de Armas (who will also appear in the next James Bond movie, alongside Craig), among others.
The premise may seem simple at first: after just having turned 80 years old, mystery writer Harlan Thrombey suddenly dies. With the circumstances around Harlan’s death being unknown, all of the family members are considered potential suspects. Turns out, it’s anything but simple. Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour runtime of the movie, the mystery slowly starts to unfold, as the audience learns exactly what happened the night Harlan died, and who actually dunnit – as always, the culprit is never who you think it to be.
The casting for this movie is phenomenal. There’s the aforementioned Daniel Craig (with a southern accent, no less!) in the form of renowned detective Benoit Blanc; Ana de Armas is Marta Cabrera, Harlan’s nurse; Christopher Plummer plays the man in question, and there’s also the (quite dysfunctional) family of the recently-deceased: Chris Evans, Katherine Langford (“13 Reasons Why”), Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette and Don Johnson, among the ones with a greater role to play. The chemistry between all of the actors is so great, one could see them actually become a dysfunctional family of their own – always a highlight in movies.
Knives Out’s crowning achievement, however, is definitely the writing. It’s everything from laugh-out-loud funny to enthralling suspenseful. You never know who to suspect, as you never know more than the plot lets you know at one moment. The movie also makes great use of one of the “plot gimmicks” it introduces: Marta, the nurse, is unable to lie without puking immediately afterwards. In a movie about finding the culprit of a crime, this is something that would instantly make someone a person of interest in the case, and Benoit Blanc takes notice of this quite quickly, as he asks Marta to be his “assistant” for the duration of the case.
As it turns out, it’s not one of the family members – or the family itself, for that matter – that is placed in the spotlight, but Marta the nurse instead. This can be considered quite a surprise, as the focus is placed on the detective and the Thrombey family in trailers and movie posters. To be completely honest, it seems kind of a waste to have a cast as great as this one, but center the plot on someone that is presented as only being a side character, but at the same time it still works marvelously. I guess it was one of Ryan Johnson’s ways to (successfully) “subvert expectations”, unlike Game of Thrones – someone should take notice.
I’ll have to stop there if I want to keep it relatively spoiler free. Knives Out is a fun movie with a wonderful cast, filled with suspense, comedy, and smart writing. Do yourself a favor and watch it whenever you have the chance.