PG Score: 8.5/10
Knives Out is, above all else, extremely funny. It’s also wildly clever and features an abundance of truly stellar dialogue. The title is fitting, given its devilishly sharp script reeled off by the silver tongues of some very memorable characters. This movie will be remembered for its irresistible blend of humor, intrigue, and good old-fashioned mystery. It starts off with the death of Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer), the patriarch of a wealthy family, just after his 85th birthday. His family is all in attendance for the party, and as such, foul play is almost immediately on the board for the investigating detectives. Part of what elevates Knives Out over your average “whodunit” caper is the phenomenal cast. There’s a boatload of talent on the roster and it’s packed with some superb performances. Daniel Craig, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, LaKeith Stanfield, and Plummer are only some of the names that comprise the cast.
Craig is a major standout as quirky private investigator Benoit Blanc, tasked with unraveling the mystery behind the circumstances of Harlan’s death. Ana de Armas does a great job as nurse Marta Cabrera, who is responsible for caring for Harlan prior to his untimely death. Evans plays arrogant and sarcastic grandson Ransom Drysdale. It’s a much different role than we are used to seeing from him and it really shows his range. The chemistry between the whole cast is electric and makes for some of the best entertainment I’ve seen in the theater this year. The real treat here is the plot. This is arguably Rian Johnson’s best work, both from a directing and writing standpoint. It’s an absolute pleasure to watch this massive ball of yarn being untangled thread by thread. Just when you think you have a grasp on what’s going on, the carpet is pulled out from under you and another curveball is thrown in the mix. Nothing is out of place and nothing is overdone. Johnson has a formula that really works here and I can only imagine the delight he felt as he was spinning this tale. Between the flashbacks and the monologues when some answers are being revealed, it’s impressive how everything just clicks. There are a lot of moving parts and they all function in masterful harmony. The other major highlight here is the dialogue; it’s consistently hilarious. When I wasn’t relishing the intricacies of the story itself, I was laughing at a witty one-liner or chuckling at a heated exchange between family members. The cast all deliver their lines beautifully and there are plenty of genuinely humorous conversations. Johnson doesn’t overdo it either. This is admirable because with a script this sharp, one couldn’t blame him for getting too cocky and overplaying his hand. Instead, he sticks to the system he has laid out the whole way. The only minor gripe I have is that there was a bit of dragging in the middle. The runtime of 2:10 would’ve better served the film if it were closer to 1:50. It just needed a bit more trimming. For the most part though, it’s very well-paced, so the minimal lag in the second act is far from a major knock. Knives Out is a knockout in every way. It’ll keep you guessing until the credits roll, so savor each step of the way. I highly recommend everyone go see this one in theaters.