In Brief: No genre is more fun than the whodunnit and this is a good one!
Christopher Plummer is cast as Harlan Thrombey. He’s the author of a bunch of very popular crime novels and is rich beyond belief. Harlan is also the patriarch of a greedy, self-absorbed and money-needy family. They are his kids, their spouses and his grandchildren.
Thrombey isn’t very healthy and requires constant care from a caregiver. Then he dies. The caregiver knows he’s likely been murdered and Harlan knows he’s being murdered and protects her. He also arranges a shocking surprise for the family that relates to the caregiver.
Harlan’s death also brings one of the country’s most recognized detectives to the family mansion. He’s Benoit Blanc. As he explores Harlan’s death, Blanc uncovers reasons why each family member — and the caregiver — may have wanted Harlan dead. Those motives may have led one or more of them to kill him.
The focus of the investigation is the caregiver who has a rare condition that causes her to vomit if she tells a lie. So Blanc knows he can get to the truth through her. But she — too — has secrets.
These secrets and others are cleverly placed in a plot packed them.
Daniel Craig plays the detective. He heads a cast that includes the Oscar and Golden Globe-winner Plummer (Beginners), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), masters of tongue-in-cheek humor, Jamie Lee Curtis and Don Johnson, the darker than dark Michael Shannon, Toni Collette who specializes in duplicitous characters, Captain America’s Chris Evans and LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martel and Riki Lindholm.
Craig plays the super suspicious detective perfectly. He’s determined to find out which of them did it and why. His co-stars spend their on-screen time looking guilty and they — and Craig — have a blast with their roles and with this plot. Their good time translates into a good time for you as you — and Craig’s Blanc — weave your way through clues that eventually lead to the killer.
And leads us to the second thing to love about Knives Out. It is Rian Johnson who writes and directs. He’s best known for writing and directing Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Fans of science fiction know him best for doing the incredibly fun, and very twisted sci-fi flick, Looper.
Johnson is the most original writer to hit Hollywood since Charlie Kaufman who wrote Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich. When Johnson hits a certain stride, no one is better. I wasn’t much of a fan of the Star Wars flick but loved Looper’s imaginative writing and style.
And I equally love this screenplay and the accompanying directing and acting. Look for lots of accolades when the award season gets into full swing next month. Best picture, director and screenplay for sure and maybe some acting nods.
Best of all, Knives Out is a whodunnit. And it’s a good one. Whodunnits are my favorite film genre. Nothing beats them. Johnson’s screenplay plays out like Clue. That’s one of the games the parents of the baby boomer generation, and the baby boomers and their children played growing up. His story twists and turns and darts this way and that with characters and you drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of just who killed the family patriarch and why.
Movies — my friends — are rarely more entertaining. Don’t miss this one.
Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martel, Riki Lindholm, Frank O, K Callen, M. Emmet Walsh, Noah Segan, Raul Castillo
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some language. This one if flat out fun from the opening credits to the laugh-out-loud climax. Absolutely a great time. Give it a 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.