Newest Reviews
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Toll, The
Two of Us
Nowhere Special
Rainbow Jacket, The
Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1
First Cow
Undiscovered Tomb
Being Frank
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
  Knives Out Daddy's Dying, Who's Got The Will?
Year: 2019
Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Riki Lindholme, Edi Patterson, Frank Oz, Noah Segan, M. Emmet Walsh
Genre: Comedy, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is one of the most successful mystery writers in the world, having sold countless millions of copies of books he releases twice a year, like clockwork. Or at least he used to, but there has been a shock as his housekeeper took him his tea in one of the upper floor rooms of his country mansion and discovered him dead by his own hand, a dagger the weapon he used to end it all. It seems an open and shut case of suicide, except there does not appear to have been any motive, and when the police are interviewing the family who look set to inherit an enormous fortune, there is another man in the room who doesn't seem to be there for any reason...

That man being Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig with an extraordinary accent that another character describes as sounding like Foghorn Leghorn later on, and they're not wrong. The motive for adopting such a cadence would seem to be for fun, and that applied to the rest of the movie as well, it was constructed to take the cast and audience alike on a bit of a romp around Agatha Christine territory. Or maybe closer to that would be Angela Lansbury territory: not for nothing was her long-running mystery series Murder, She Wrote seen on a television at one point, more evidence that writer and director Rian Johnson was messing around with some very staid conventions.

The drawing room murder yarn was, after all, pretty fusty as a genre, more suited to theatre performances in the provinces than a blockbuster movie in 2019, yet here we were with precisely that as the big sleeper hit of that year, providing those audiences with a dollop of escapism, a few thrills and a sprinkling of laughs that said, "Don't take it too seriously, folks!" The plot gave away the killer early on, so technically for most of it, this was not a whodunit at all, more a "how are they going to get out of it?", but if you were anticipating a twist to that set-up then you would not be disappointed as Johnson did his level best to pull the rug out from under the captivated viewers.

Of course, some were not so captivated, and claimed this was not as satisfying as the Christies it was so indebted to, which may be true, but there was a touch of snobbery in that opinion, like the colonials did not have the mettle to pull this off to any great apex of achievement in the style. Which was why the light social commentary was so welcome - you could easily dismiss it and enjoy the film as a straightforward (well...) thriller, but this was coming from the man who made sure in his Star Wars instalment to give those who were exploiting said wars a taste of what they were inflicting on the galaxy. Therefore it was perhaps no surprise to see Knives Out regard the rich as grotesques whose fortune had turned them into the epitome of greed, focused on keeping their privileges as far as they possibly could.

The real lead was not Craig, but Ana de Armas as Marta, Harlan's nurse who accidentally administers a fatal dose of morphine to him as part of his pre-bedtime medication, and spends the rest of the movie negotiating both the law and the clan of her employer to ensure she does not fall victim to circumstances and end up behind bars. Marta was a lowly immigrant who Johnson obviously had huge sympathy for, and as the underdog had a lot to prove to justify her presence to the others, adding a layer of class conflict that was surprisingly potent. But it was not simply that and that alone, for there were references to other whodunits, from a Choose Your Own Adventure book to the all-star casts Christie enjoyed post-Murder on the Orient Express with Albert Finney, and even a reference to Stephen Sondheim who had co-written one of the great, cult murder mysteries of the movies, The Last of Sheila. Everyone was having a whale of a time performing this, so it was rather overstuffed and over-ornate, but overall, a good show all round. Music by Nathan Johnson.

[Available on digital download from 21st March.
And on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD and Steelbook from 30th March.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray has commentaries and featurettes as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 799 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: