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USA 2019
Directed by
Rian Johnson
131 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Knives Out

It is unusual these days to find a strongly plot-driven movie but Knives Out is one such and what a plot it is.

When famous crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found with his throat cut at his country manor house the night of his eighty-fifth birthday, the renowned freelance detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is called in to help police with their investigation. The police are satisfied that it was suicide but Blanc insists on questioning each member of Thrombey’s family as well as his carer, a young nurse (Ana de Armas).

With obvious nods to Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries writer-director Rian Johnson’s hugely entertaining film in classic style locates its story in an isolated setting as a somewhat eccentric yet canny sleuth interviews a series of suspects each of whom have a motive for the dastardly deed of murder. For over two hours this gives us a very healthy dose of twists and turns couched in intricate plotting and cracking dialogue without taxing our credulity. Refreshingly, Johnson’s story is, however, not over with the inevitable “whodunnit” revelation but rather follows what happens after that.

Employing an eclectic but effective cast which ranges from Jamie Lee Curtis to Toni Collette, Don Johnson to Michael Shannon, Knives Out is an enjoyable romp in which foul play is exposed and the guilty get their just desserts.

As the quietly self-assured Blanc who is going to ensure that this happens Daniel Craig is an unlikely choice but he does a surprisingly solid job affecting a laid-back manner and a Southern drawl (I assume from the choice of the Rolling Stones’ Sweet Virginia as the closing song that the story is set in that US State).

If clever writing, tongue-in-cheek-humour and fun performances (all nicely packaged by David Crank’s production design) are your thing, and for whom would they be not, Knives Out should be mandatory viewing.

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