Knives Out is the most fun you’ll have this year at the cinemas


This cracking mystery is a lean-forward experience, as the movie lures you deeper and deeper into its intricately plotted layers. In other words – You. Will. Be. Hooked.

Knives Out features an enviable cast led by Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Christopher Plummer, and then throw in sparkling supporting performances from Lakeith Stanfield, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Katherine Langford. It’s a veritable who’s who of suspects. A rogues’ gallery, if you will.

You will not have a more fun time at the movies this year.

With family like these, why would you need enemies? Picture: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP.Source:AP

A closed-house whodunit of sorts, Knives Out is the story Agatha Christie wishes she had written, drawing from the great tradition of Golden Age detective fiction with a thread of Hitchcockian thriller laced through it.

Private eye Benoit Blanc (Craig) is hired by a secretive client to discover the truth behind the death of famed mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Plummer), found dead with his throat slit in his Cluedo-esque manor, seemingly a suicide.

Thrombey’s family had been in the house that same night to celebrate his birthday, including his oldest daughter Linda (Curtis), her husband Richard (Johnson), their son Ransom (Evans), Thombey’s son Walt (Shannon), Walt’s wife Donna (Rikki Lindhome), their son Jacob (Jaeden Martell), Thrombey’s daughter-in-law Joni (Collette) and granddaughter Meg (Langford).

Also present were the housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) and nurse Marta (de Armas).

Thrombey’s family are all suspects, each with their own motives to have their patriarch dispatched to the afterlife.

So when Blanc starts probing all the key players, with the help of local detective Elliot (Stanfield) and the mystery-mad trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), everyone starts to get nervous their secrets are about to be unveiled.

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Daniel Craig couldn’t be further from Bond. Picture: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP.

Daniel Craig couldn’t be further from Bond. Picture: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP.Source:AP

While Knives Out starts off fairly rote, running through all the suspects in this gabled-roof mansion with its heavy brocade curtains, hidden doors and claw-footed velvet furniture, it soon takes twists and turns, before circling back to the mandated drawing room reveal.

But they’re twists and turns the story earns, never overly outlandish or logic-defying. The movie is so cleverly plotted that you’ll appreciate every contrivance.

You’ll find yourself torn between dying to know the answer to wishing it would go on a bit longer just so you can bathe in its effervescent and delicious energy.

That’s saying something because at two hours and 15 minutes, it’s not a short movie, but it’s so pacy and light, and brilliantly edited, it flies by.

The performances are all scintillating, from Collette’s Joni (who could be another state of Tara) to Craig’s southern drawled Blanc. But it’s de Armas who steals the show as Marta, her big, expressive eyes a hypnotic presence.

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Ana de Armas steals the movie. Picture: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP.

Ana de Armas steals the movie. Picture: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP.Source:AP

Director Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) is clearly a fan of the genre and he has imbued that love into Knives Out. He layers so many references and Easter eggs into various scenes – you’ll even glimpse Jessica Fletcher on her typewriter at one point.

All the winks at the audience never feel overdone – this is homage, not mere pastiche.

Blanc himself is a tribute to Christie’s Hercule Poirot, a mercurial detective whose little grey cells is confident that reason will restore order and morality.

This isn’t the first time Johnson has made a modernised version of a beloved detective genre. His first feature was Brick, a film noir high school mystery starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Brick was a wonderful debut, and it heralded the arrival of not just a creative filmmaker, but one who’s also a fan. Knives Out is the culmination of all that talent we first saw 14 years ago.

Captain un-America. Picture: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP.

Captain un-America. Picture: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP.Source:AP

But Knives Out isn’t only an addictive murder mystery, there are also layers of commentary built into it – a parable about the status quo desperately trying to push back immigrants or any challenges to their cushy, privileged life.

An ongoing joke is that no one in the family gets right where the “good girl” nurse Marta is actually from. Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador – it’s all the same to them. It’s not an overtly political movie, but it certainly has a perspective.

That Johnson uses the character of Jacob, a neo-Nazi in the making, as the butt of all the jokes about alt-right online trolls is a little retaliatory touch for all the deranged vitriol certain segments of the internet piled onto The Last Jedi in 2017. Nice.

Knives Out is a seriously juicy and thrilling experience, one that will command every moment of your attention from the beginning to the end.

Even if you think you have some parts of it figured it out, it’ll keep you guessing until it’s ready to reveal its hand.

Rating: 5/5

Knives Out is in cinemas from Thursday, November 28

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