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Knives Out Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

A death, a house full of potential suspects & a witty detective, with a French name & funny accent… No, this is not an Agatha Christie adaptation!

Genre: Comedy / Crime / Mystery

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, LaKeith Stanfield & Christopher Plummer.

Run Time: 130 min.

US Release: 27 November 2019

UK Release: 27 November 2019

German Release: 02 January 2020

It has been some time since an original murder mystery has seen the light of the silver screen. 2017s Murder on the Orient Express was merely a remake of one of Agatha Christie’s best-known works, while detective tales focus much more on the action than the actual puzzle at hand. So, I was really pumped to hear that Rian Johnson was creating a classic “whodunit”, surrounded by a big cast, with non-other than Daniel Craig himself as the lead investigator. Freshly coming out of the cinema, I can confidently say that this is one of the most fun movies I have seen in the cinema! So, let’s get into my review!

When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead at his estate, it is up to inquisitive Detective Benoit Blanc to investigate his untimely demise. Rummaging through a web of red herrings, including self-serving lies from Harlan's dysfunctional family and the devoted staff, Blanc needs to use every method, to uncover the truth behind Harlan's death.

What makes this murder mystery so great is the screenplay, which takes the ‘whodunit‘ aspect, turning it upside down, as well as satirising the detective element. In fact, this is more of a character adventure, than a big-brain mystery. The story is very tongue-in-cheek, deconstructing and reconstructing the anatomy of the murder mystery, by giving audiences an important piece of information, then pulling the rug from underneath that prediction. It creates enough intrigue to want to try to figure out if what is perceived is real, or if the offender is trying to mislead viewers, just like trying to fool Detective Benoit Blanc.

Of course, it is not without flaws, as it does contain one or two storytelling issues. For one, it contains too many twists, to the point where the narrative makes a complete 360 and keeps on going where it started from. I also believe that it is about ten minutes too long because while I enjoyed the first two acts, the third one had me start looking at my watch. However, those are simple nit-picks, as overall I really enjoyed this feature!

Most of the humour is conveyed through the dry, witty dialogue, which includes a lot of puns and funny remarks. That, in combination with the brilliant line delivery of the cast, made for an irresistibly amusing theatre experience!

The cast includes a lot of big names, among others Jamie-Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collett and Christopher Plummer, all of who are starring in supportive roles. Each one of them did a terrific job, contributing brilliantly to the final product, giving depth to the smallest side character. Due to the large cast, though, I will focus on the three main characters the movie revolves around.

As stated in the introductory paragraph, Daniel Craig has been given the lead role of detective Benoit Blanc, who is investigating Harlan Thrombey’s apparent suicide. Craig worked with a coach for months, to develop his Southern slur, which he lays on thick. While many had complained about the “bad” accent, Craig himself explained that he overplayed it for humorous reasons. The actor gave a great performance, always staying in the background, just popping up from time to time into the foreground, to stir-up trouble.

However, it is Ana de Armas who steals the show! She portrays Marta, Harlan’s nurse and the person he confides in most. Her character required a larger acting range than the rest of the cast, especially in the emotional spectrum, which de Armas fully delivered upon. Marta herself is a hard-working person, who is good at heart, not only taking care of Harlan but also of her family. She has an unusual condition, making her extremely valuable for Benoit’s investigation, turning her into the only person he can trust.

Chris Evans, who technically first appears properly in the second act, gives a marvellous performance as Hugh Ransom Drysdale, the bratty son of Linda Drysdale, grandson of Harlan. He had a fall-out with his grandfather, is disrespectful to the rest of the family, though has amazing line deliveries. Evans shrouds his character in mystery.

Technically, it is a very well-captured film with fine nuances and a sharp-looking image. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin plays masterfully with the composition of light, not only to such an extent that it looks as if shot on celluloid, but also by manipulating it to give the mansion a life of its own. The setting of a ‘whodunit’ is just as integral as the characters in it! By using the right amount of light, coming through windows, as well as from within the house, he managed to create a homey ambience that also feels threatening.

The set design is equally impressive, making use of a “Clue”-like surrounding, by including large libraries, study rooms, big open halls, antique wooden panels, as well as marble stones. It feels timeless, yet also conservative. Costume plus make-up suit well to the American North-East, while contrasting between the wealthy family and their employees. Detective Blanc was given an attire that suits more to a modern Agatha Christie novel.

The music is well composed, accentuating the characters more than the plot itself, which helps keep the mystery alive. It has all the right notes, sounding like a classic score for a murder mystery.


Verdict: Rian Johnson created a smart, witty ‘whodunit’, reminiscent of some of Agatha Christie’s best works. He goes a step further though, poking fun at the investigative aspect of a murder mystery, by turning it on its head, revealing a big chunk to audiences along the first act, then twisting a web of conspiracies throughout the plot. Granted, the web of intrigue is a little too much. The dialogues are very tongue-in-cheek, giving the premise much of its humour, including the over-the-top accent by Daniel Craig. It is Ana de Armas, however, who steals the spotlight, with her charming presence and impeccable acting range. The cinematography, just like the set and costume design are gorgeous to look at. All in all, I had a great time in the cinema watching Knives Out, which absolutely deserves an 8.5 out of 10.

I recommend you go see Johnson’s new flick! It is worth it! Leave a comment with your opinion & if you like what you read, consider subscribing. Thank you very much for reading!


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