It's not sharp enough to be in the awards-season discussion, but "Knives Out" is a deliciously fun night out at the movies.
How does Rian Johnson follow-up the hotly-debated (mostly by inter-nerds) "Star: Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi"? By directing a movie that is sure to be a universal crowd-pleaser. "Knives Out" strives to be a modern-day who-dun-it filled with twists and turns...a murder-mystery that takes place in a swank mansion with a cast of colorful subjects, any of whom might have done the killing. It's old-school entertainment, and a film that all can agree will lead to a fun night out at the movies.
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Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer...and what a great name for a rich patriarch, right?) is a very successful mystery author who has built an empire, much to the satisfaction of his children and family members who leech off of him. When Harlan is killed one night - a suspected suicide - a pair of detectives (LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan) and a mysterious private eye, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) show up and round-up all of the suspects. There's Marta (Ana de Armas), Harlan's personal nurse who was with him the night of the murder...ahem...suicide, Harlan's daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her cheating husband Richard (Don Johnson) and his other children (Toni Collette, Michael Shannon and Chris Evans), all of whom bring their unique and flawed personalities and alibis to the table.
As these movies go, the fun is in figuring out the mystery along with the characters. Where the movie goes wrong, is that once it introduces us all to this crazy group of people, it shoves many of them to the background and only focuses on a select few. Without spoiling anything in telling you which is which, I just wish that the entire cast would have been given more to do.
And as a mystery goes, a twist nearly halfway in seems to clear up what happened that fateful night, and the film at that point seems to get off-track as it meanders on for quite a while. It eventually gets back on-point, leading to a deliciously delightful final 30-minutes where - as tends to happen in these sort of movies - we get a thorough explanation as to who is responsible, and just what clues were used to uncover it all.
But despite its flaws, "Knives Out" is pure fun. It's the sort of movie we don't tend to get a lot of in recent years, but familiar enough that every single audience member will recognize the beats. Daniel Craig has never been so loose on film, and Ana de Armas breaks-out of a cast filled with what I may refer to as "B-List" celebrities.
It may take a while to get to its point, but "Knives Out" won't give audiences the shaft.
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama.
Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes.
Starring: Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson ("Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi," "Looper," "The Brothers Bloom").
"Knives Out" opens everywhere on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019.
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