After the highly controversial, yet bold eighth entry into the Star Wars saga, Rian Johnson delivers the gripping and entertaining film that is Knives Out. Everything from the cast, to music, to the script is simply superb.
The film revolves around the Thrombey family, Marta Cabrera (the patriarch Harlan Thrombey’s caretaker and friend) and Benoit Blanc, who can be described as an American Hercule Poirot, or Sherlock Holmes. When Harlan is found dead the morning after his 85th birthday, Blanc takes on the case and eliminates no suspect of the Thrombey family.
One of the best aspects of the film is its all-star cast, and how they interact as the Thrombey family (with Blanc and Cabrera). Even characters who do almost nothing, like Jacob Thrombey (played by Jaeden Martell of the well-known film It) are memorable because each Thrombey family member has a quirk or a stereotype to go with them, most of which are terrible with a few exceptions. For example, Jacob is an alt-right internet troll who even his own uncle outright says he is a Nazi.
On the other hand, we have Meg Thrombey (played by Katherine Langford from 13 Reasons Why and Love, Simon), who is called an SJW at least once over the course of the film. The two characters contrast with each other in such a manner that makes it impossible to forget them, which makes the characters with even minimal presence memorable (although Meg certainly did have a bigger role than Jacob, and was definitely more sympathetic.) The highlight out of the supporting Thrombey cast however, was definitely Toni Collette as Joni Thrombey, who simply stole every scene she appeared in.
There are also characters that glue the film together, the ones who make the wheels move. This includes Daniel Craig’s (Skyfall) Blanc, Ana de Armas’s (Blade Runner 2049) Cabrera, Chris Evan’s (Captain America: The First Avenger), Hugh “Ransom” Thrombey, and lastly, Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) as Harlan.
De Armas is great as Cabrera, as the most sympathetic character in the film, aside from Harlan. Without delving too deep, Harlan’s death becomes less of a murder and more a tragedy the more you learn about it, and grows even more intricate as the film goes on, as does his character, with us finding out more and more things that happened on his fateful birthday.
There’s also Ransom Thrombey, and while I can’t talk much about him without spoiling the film, the relationship between him and Harlan was definitely a core part of the film, and Evans plays him fantastically. Lastly, we have Craig as Blanc, who I surprisingly would not describe as the protagonist, but more so the outsider of the bunch, who moves along the plot (although not necessarily in a conventional way due to how the information is presented to us, the audience, but more so for the family.)
While I can’t delve to deep into the script without ruining the film, one of the things I love is how it handles it’s twists. Knives Out, is simply twists done right, and for a few reasons. One, they unfold organically and make sense. There aren’t any cheap fake outs or curveballs in the film, and the film doesn’t make it so easy to guess that you get it right from the start. It strikes a balance, the fast pacing helps a lot, making it so that you can’t ponder why certain details line up nicely with the information presented.
There are more, however listing them here would probably ruin the film a bit. The twists are the film. It forces you to question the nature of Harlan’s death. Each time you think you have it, another layer appears. Blanc even described the case as a donut with more donuts inside of it, in a very strange (albeit entertaining) monologue right before the climax of the film.
The score of the film also augments the scenes, with the music always tense, which is fitting as you aren’t really safe from the twists until the very end. The strings were a standout, and were simply superb.
Knives Out is an entertaining, enjoyable, and gripping ride that raises the bar for any mysteries that come after. I do not hesitate to call it one of the best films of the year, and for anyone who still had doubts about Johnson as a director (which they shouldn’t have in the first place), this cements him as one of the best directors alive now, along with the likes of Edgar Wright, Ryan Coogler, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Denis Villeneuve, among others. If you enjoyed Knives Out, you may also enjoy his other pieces, which include The Last Jedi, and perhaps even Brick, although it’s not exactly in the same genre as Knives Out so it may depend on your taste at that point.
Just a fair warning, Knives Out has said to trigger anxiety in those who have Emetophobia, a fear of vomiting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film but you should always put safety first.