‘Knives Out’ Is A Cleverly Entertaining Mystery

Photo by Claire Folger:Claire Folger - © 2018 MRC II Distribution Company L.P. All rights reserved.
Photo by Claire Folger/Claire Folger – © 2018 MRC II Distribution Company L.P. All rights reserved.

 

This movie might have gone horribly wrong. With an ensemble of recognizable actors, a plot that, mostly, takes place in one setting, and a crime that almost seems impossible, the story could quickly become absurd. Remember Murder on the Orient Express in 2017? Exactly.

Knives Out, however, avoids the mistakes Orient Express made with its convoluted plot and ridiculous conclusion. Instead, it provides a step-by-step mystery with enough questions and possibilities to keep the viewer interested. And, in the end, the big reveal is as satisfying as any Arthur Conan Doyle novel.

Tragedy has struck the Thrombey family as patriarch Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead due to an apparent suicide. But was it suicide? Harlan was a multi-millionaire, having written hugely popular mystery novels, so it stands to reason that somebody might be after his money, estate, and publishing company.

Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis) loved her father and their home as the eldest child while her husband Richard (Don Johnson) routinely worked to stay in his father-in-law’s good graces. Walt Thrombrey (Michael Shannon) managed his father’s publishing company, which everybody thought was handed to him as the youngest son. Walt’s son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell), is some sort of internet nazi.

Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) married into the family and has been kept afloat by Harlan since his other son, Joni’s husband, died. This money went to support Meg (Katherine Langford), too, as she is Harlan’s only granddaughter. And then there’s the black sheep of the family, Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), Linda’s son and Harlan’s oldest grandchild. He’s a rebel and hasn’t worked a day in his life, but perhaps he’s just misunderstood.

This family has a lot going on, with competing personalities and goals. Could one of them have killed Harlan? Oh, and let’s not forget the nurse, Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas). Marta has become a part of the family and, as everybody keeps reminding her, and it’s quickly made clear that she’s at the center of our mystery.

Investigating the curious death is Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), a private investigator with a southern drawl. He’s joined by Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan).

With such a large cast, not a single moment is wasted. Each character provides plenty of questions, answers, laughs, and gasps. Just about every character here has some sort of pivotal plot point that is taken advantage of in pushing the story forward, so make sure you’re paying attention to what they do and say.

Daniel Craig does a phenomenal job and shows off yet another one of his accents in playing this role. Craig’s character in Knives Out could easily have his own film, and it’d be fascinating to watch. The sleuth, Benoit Blanc, adds an extra layer to this film as an observer to the family drama taking place.

Ana de Armas, too, is worth mentioning as she plays a young, innocent, and sometimes naive, caretaker. How the story spins around and involves her is what makes this story extra special. Her character, Marta, also provides an opportunity for some politics to inch into the film and the story handles it delicately and with some humor.

Knives Out, up until the very last twist and the final reveal, is a cleverly crafted and entertaining mystery. It’s already proving itself to be a favorite with audiences as it expands in theaters this Thanksgiving weekend. If you thought your family was dysfunctional, especially during the holidays, the Thrombeys are sure to have you beat.

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