Knives Out

Hey guys, it turns out there is a such thing as an original movie. Who knew? It comes in the form of some twisty mystery fun, and even though it’s Thanksgiving, I’m here to tell you all about it. How else will you know what to watch with the family tonight?

Knives Out is a movie written, produced, and directed by Rian Johnson. How that makes you feel may depend heavily on whether you’re a Last Jedi hater. Personally, I really like The Last Jedi, so I have no qualms with seeing what else Johnson can do. This time he eschews the budget for something intimate, with a large cast and a presentation that almost feels like a live theatrical production.

It’s hard to write a review for a mystery. If I tell you anything at all, it may get your wheels spinning in the right direction, and thus destroy the fun. So I will say that although the twists aren’t all unforeseen, enough of them are to keep you entertained. The movie does a good job of giving you enough information that you’ll at least have a nugget of the truth, if not the whole truth.

Largely, this is done through some very clever exposition that departs from the normal mystery narrative. Instead of solely giving you bits and pieces of unreliable narrative, it also sometimes just hits you in the face with full-on truth, leaving you to wonder what mystery there could possibly be left. Or maybe it’s not the truth? Or maybe it is? Or maybe it kinda is? You never know and that’s the joy of the movie.

Given that action is sparse in a movie like this, the actors who play the many suspects are key to the whole thing working. This cast does not disappoint. They’re all big enough names that you’ll believe any of them could have done it, and they all play their parts well enough that you can’t really trust any of them.

A special mention goes out to Ana de Armas who carries a lot of the film. I’ve seen her in other stuff, but never in such a juicy, well-acted role. Daniel Craig also deserves a shout out for, at the very least, really dedicating himself to his character. His strange accent and odd-ball detective routine can be a bit jarring, but every mystery needs elements that distract from the clues, and Craig manages to do this with his nuanced performance that always leads you to believe that he knows more than you. And yes, Cap is in this movie and manages to just barely get out of his superhero skin enough for you to forget that you’re looking at The First Avenger.

Movies like this are rare these days, no doubt because it’s hard to make a buck without explosions, superheroes, or princesses, but I applaud Rian Johnson and company for going all out to produce something this fun. It’s an enjoyable time that might not get you with all its twists, but will certainly trick you at least once.

Rating: A-Tier
Should you watch it? Absolutely; it’s a great change of pace and particularly good for a family of people with different tastes
Should you take your kids? Probably not. There’s fairly graphic murder, after all.
What you should watch first: Though it’s rare that I get to say this — nothing at all!

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