“Rian Johnson ruined Star Wars!! He made my childhood bad and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to make anymore movies!! #CancelRianJohnson…What was that? He’s making a new movie? It’s a mystery thriller? BOYCOTT IT!!! Wait… It has Jaimie Lee Curtis and Christopher Plummer? I mean, boycott it still. What? It also has Chris Evans and Daniel Craig…? I mean… I guess I’ll give it a chance. What? Daniel Craig speaks with an intense southern drawl? Okay, I’m really interested now. What? Chris Evans is a snarky, stuck up a**hole? OKAY. I like where this is going. What? You mean the film is actually good? Okay, forget the boycott, we got to see this movie. NOW!!!”
That was basically the thought process for one of my friends who hated The Last Jedi. This movie, however, isn’t The Last Jedi and should not be judged simply because it is written and directed by the same guy. Knives Out and The Last Jedi are two completely different films, but they do have one thing in common… besides Frank Oz, of course: expectations.
We are so used to Whodunnits by now that they begin to follow a formula after you’ve seen enough. Sherlock Holmes, Murder on the Orient Express, Clue- all of them follow that classic formula to a tee. Knives Out follows the pattern, and then immediately spits in your face and calls you an idiot for thinking it would be so easy. It’s not. Rian Johnson once agains defies expectations with a genre many of us are familiar with and gives us a story we will not see coming.
I surely didn’t.
I thought this was going to be similar to Orient Express, but what I got instead was 1/3 of that movie, 1/3 of Get Out, and 1/3 Clue. A winning combination, I might add. There were twists and turns and things that were set up and then paid off beautifully. There are a few shortcomings that come with the story, especially around the end of the first act. I can’t get into it because spoilers, but I will say that they solve the case halfway through, but there’s still more movie.
This got kind of annoying at first, as it was clear they already solved the mystery. And it feels like that for a VERY, VERY long time. I was wrong, of course, as it turns out what I thought was not true at all. This shake up in the story and the script comes across as annoying, as it feels like I getting screwed by Rian Johnson. That’s not necessarily bad, per se, but it does leave you feeling stupid, and not in the good way. And that’s where the bad ends. Now for the good.
Besides being beautifully shot and edited, Knives Out‘s real strength lies within its script and casting. Rian is a bloody genius with the actors he got together for the movie. You’d think that with an all star cast with the likes of Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jaimie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, and Toni Collette, that the focus would be on them, right? WRONG!!!! They were just the draw for the real main character: Marta Cabrerawho, played wonderfully by Ana de Armas. She is the true star of this movie and each and every scene she is in feels engaging and compelling. This is HER movie, and she rocks it. But then again, everyone does.
This is not a poorly acted film, nor is it a very dramatic one either. Sure, there were moments where I felt tense and scared for everybody involved, except THOSE characters. For those of you who have seen the movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But what really grabbed me was how funny and sharp the writing felt. Every line has importance and the funny lines are gut-bustingly funny. And what’s better is that all the actors say their lines with real gravatas and… I guess the word I’d use is believability. The writing is just so juicy and sharp and the jokes are so damn funny, with one in particular having to do with Marta’s character and her country of origin.
Without giving anything else away, I will simply say that I had an absolute blast with Knives Out. This is Rian Johnson’s best work so far. Maybe second best as Looper is still a personal favorite of mine.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Knives Out is all I wanted and more. The cast is funny and compelling, the script is sharp, Rian Johnson’s direction is amazing, it defied my expectations, and I felt content by the end. However, that point where THE TWIST happens in the first act causes the movie to drag for a bit. I realize now that there was more story to tell but, at the time, it just felt tedious until the next plot point hit. Knives Out deserves to be rewatched as, by the end, I found myself wanting to see it again just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.