Harlan Thrombey, a renowned crime novelist, is found dead the night of his 85th birthday – apparent suicide. As the colorful Thrombey family joins together at their estate for the funeral and will reading, detective Benoit Blanc is mysteriously enlisted on the case to investigate the death of Harlan, suspicious there was no suicide at all, but a murder. Intrigue! Deception! Was it Professor Plum in the library with a candlestick? Stay tuned.
Two years ago, Kenneth Branagh played the detective Hercule Poirot, and now Daniel Craig is Benoit Blanc, essentially Poirot but funnier. If you’ve seen Logan Lucky, take Craig’s Joe Bang character and turn him down a notch; add a touch of Holmesian intellect, and you’ve got Benoit Blanc. Chris Evans is also fun, blowing up the scene upon his arrival, and being so smug he’d make Captain America blush. However, it is Ana de Armas who steals the spotlight; I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the role she played. Ever since Blade Runner 2049, I’ve been a fan of de Armas, and she carries this film on her shoulders. She allows us to breathe when the Thrombey family becomes too much (I can’t imagine what their Thanksgiving dinner is like) and succeeds as the character the audience attaches themselves to on this crazy ride. Unfortunately, I feel like the rest of the A-list cast is underused; Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, and Michael Shannon get to introduce themselves in the beginning but there isn’t much for them to do as the story progresses.
Knives Out is receiving a lot praise, has just received three Golden Globe nominations, and is being credited with flipping the “whodunnit” on its head…but is any of this deserved? I’m not so sure. This a moderately fun film, with a cast that had potential, and maintains a solid amount of energy throughout its duration; Knives Out works well as an original film for anyone looking to pass the time. But Rian Johnson is not as clever as he thinks he is, and this has nothing to do with the fact he created The Last Jedi, it’s just true. The film shows too much, doesn’t have enough to be emotionally invested in, and consequently suffers from a lack of suspense. Knives Out prides itself on being different from what the audience is typically accustomed to expecting from these kinds of films, telling its story from a different angle and being obvious in the process, but being obvious is not synonymous with murder mysteries because it does not work, and never will; a Scooby-Doo episode is more compelling. And politics are haphazardly thrown into the family’s dialogue because why not? It does not matter if nothing is actually said, as long as the film is current.
Am I being overly critical in my judgement of this film? Possibly. But if there’s one thing me and Rian Johnson can agree on, it’s that Baby Driver is awesome. 7/10