As a kid I used to love playing the game Clue or reading a good mystery novel, because I mean who doesn’t enjoy solving things. Of course I assume there are quite a bit of you out there who do not, but for us wannabe sleuths, finding out who used the candle stick in the parlor was good times indeed. So needless to say seeing that a new movie that is going to make my inner detective happy, by Rian Johnson nonetheless got me quite excited. After his genre blending films like Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper, with his latest Knives Out all I have left to do is discover just what kind of web I must try an untangle.
Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a highly successful mystery novelist who is celebrating his 85th with his family. That family is his daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), his son Walt (Michael Shannon) and his daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette), as well as their kids. The party goes off without a hitch, but that night Harlan is found dead and the police, led by Lt. Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) they think it is an open and shut case. That though wouldn’t make a fun movie, so lucky for us someone hired the great Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and he finds out that things are indeed afoot. Blanc sits in with everyone, but the person he spends the most time with is Marta (Ana de Armas), Thrombey’s caretaker, because of a unique tell that could help him solve the case. What follows is a story where everyone is a suspect, but who will be the one to get caught?
Putting together a good mystery can be quite the challenge, I mean if it was easy everyone would be doing it. While having someone killed is easy, the misdirection is the key, because when that it is done right you might even think you were the one who did it. Johnson puts a story together just like that, leading you towards suspects, but only to have a misdirect get your attention. He writes and directs Knives Out and continues to lay the perfect foundation, but it’s the cast that is oh so good and everyone plays their parts effortlessly. Craig though stands out above the rest, even with his Foghorn Leghorn twang that actually helps you love his character even more. And there is a true breakout in Ana de Armas as Marta, who was herself one of the standouts in Blade Runner 2049. The other key for me that makes Knives Out one of the better mysteries I have seen in a while, is the humor, because if we are trying to solve a fictional death, laughter helps. Making a movie like this with so many moving parts and finding a cast that fits, can be a problem harder to solve than the crime. Luckily everything works out for us lovers of this genre-blending director, and really there is only one who it doesn’t work out for, but you will have to watch until the end to see who that is.