Synopsis: When the patriarch of a wealthy family (Christopher Plummer) is found mysteriously dead on the eve of his 85 birthday, his squabbling family convenes to backstab each other and receive their inheritance (in that order.) However, famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) smells something amiss with the death, determining to unravel a tangled web of murder, mystery, and betrayal.
Twist your brain like a pretzel
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Knives Out is an absolute delight to experience. Very rarely do movies like this come along, every line is delivered with a sniper’s precision, every frame of the movie reveals a piece of the expansive puzzle, and, most enjoyably, every second the movie gives you to gather your thoughts and catch your breath is another second to twist your brain like a pretzel, trying to solve the mystery.
The movie has assembled a truly dynamite cast, each one of the actors gamely play their part in the story, while also getting more than a few moments to shine. Each of these people are gamely utilized as both potential murderers in the whodunnit, but also as deplorable members of a bickering family. At times, their bickering is so funny and captivating, I almost wanted the whole movie to just be this clan taking potshots at each other over Thanksgiving dinner. The fact that Daniel Craig is a Kentucky fried detective coyly solving the murder of Christopher Plummer only elevates the whole affair.
As I said, every one of the actors gets a distinct characterization and has several moments that will linger with you (Michael Shannon’s roaring delivery of “HAVE ANOTHER COOKIE, YOU!” will make me chuckle to myself for at least a week.) At its nucleus, Daniel Craig constantly entertains, purring his musings with an unbelievably funny southern accent (with Christmas coming, anyone can feel free to cross-stitch his speech about doughnut holes onto a throw pillow for me. I’ll pay any price.)
Craig aside, Knives Out serves as a great showcase for the talents of all its performers: Jamie Lee Curtis’s frosty demureness, Chris Evans snide arrogance, Michael Shannon’s brooding menace. The heart of the movie – and the audience – belongs to Ana de Armas.
That’s all I’m going to say: this story, this experience, is made exponentially more enjoyable the less you know about it going in. Look up the cast, read a brief plot synopsis, pick a theater and a showtime and just go.
Simply put, Knives Out is a triumph, a masterpiece in both intricate storytelling and blockbuster entertainment. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll wonder aloud where you can buy Chris Evans’ sweaters, and what it feels like to cuddle on the couch with him. Rian Johnson has crafted a masterclass whodunnit, and I’m sure glad he did.