KNIVES OUT -- A Sharp Blade of a Film
Review by Dan Skip Allen
From left to right: Donna (Riki Lindholm), Walt (Michael Shannon), Meg (Katherine Langford), Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), Joni (Toni Collette), Ransom (Chris Evans), Great Nana (K Callan), Jacob (Jaeden Lieberher), Lt. Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield), Richard (Don Johnson), and Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) in KNIVES OUT.
Murder mystery films aren't anything new to cinemas. Rian Johnson channeled the genre's classics when making Knives Out. He added the mystery and suspense of Ten Little Indians and Murder on the Orient Express and the comedy of Clue to create his own version of a murder mystery, and a brilliant one at that.
When a patriarch of a wealthy family is murdered everybody is a suspect. Everybody has greed in their hearts and motive to boot. Rian Johnson wrote the script for this film as well as directed. He gives all the characters a lot of juicy dialogue. The script is full of witty banter and clever one liners. The two that say the most and eat the scenery are Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans) and Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). They both play against type which makes their performances that much more enjoyable. Ransom is a fowl-mouthed snob everybody in the family hates. Blanc has a knack for saying the funniest things at the wrong time.
The cast Johnson assembled is perfection personified. Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Ana de Armas, Lakieth Stanfield, and Toni Collette are just a handful of the phenomenal talent in this film. They all get their moment to shine. Besides Evans and Craig, Ana de Armas is the standout in this film as the caregiver to the head of this family. In her previous films, she has portrayed the sexpot, but she is nothing like that in Knives Out. She might even be good enough for an Academy Award nomination for her role as Marta.
Rian Johnson is best known for writing and directing Brick, Looper and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. After this year people are going forget he wrote and directed those films because Knives Out is his best work to date. There is a reason why all these amazingly talented people jumped onto the project. Once they had a chance to read the script, they knew how brilliant it was and wanted to be a part of something great. Johnson injected this film with a lot of things that make great films. This just shows you don't need a bunch of visual effects and explosions to make a great film.
Knives Out has everything a viewer wants in a great film. Great acting, great script, and great direction all add up to a great film. Johnson added enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing until the very end. It wouldn't be surprising if it got multiple Academy Award nominations for writing, directing, and multiple acting noms for Best Supporting Actor for Evans and Craig and supporting actress for de Armas. This is one of my favorite films of the year!
Knives Out opens in theaters on November 27.
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