“Knives Out” kills at the box office and with audiences

By William Brown Feb 11, 2020

 “Knives Out” is one of the best mystery movies in recent memory. 

If you haven’t seen it, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

In a murder mystery, the plot is of great importance to the film’s quality, “Knives Out” excels in this. 

In a reversal of a typical murder mystery Harlan Thrombey, a famous crime novelist, is found dead the morning after his 85th birthday with his throat slit and a knife in hand. 

The police believe it to be a suicide, but an anonymous benefactor has sent an envelope full of cash (in addition to a newspaper clipping of the apparent suicide) to Benoit Blanc, a renowned private detective.

Everyone present at Thrombey’s birthday party the night before his death is being questioned by Blanc. 

This includes Marta, who cannot lie without vomiting, and who also possesses information that implicates her in Harlan’s death. 

The rest of the story unfolds as Marta tries to outwit Blanc in order to avoid having her mother and sister, who are illegal immigrants, deported.

The tension is palpable throughout the movie due to the expert pacing exhibited by director Rian Johnson.

The acting in “Knives Out” is also spectacular.

The cast is excellent across the board, with Ana de Armas, Toni Colette, Michael Shannon and Christopher Plummer (among others) turning in solid performances. 

Yet, three in particular impressed me.

The first is Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays Linda Drysdale, Harlan’s daughter. 

Linda, a real estate mogul, is informed and yet entitled, successful and yet bitter. 

Jamie Lee Curtis delivers a layered performance of a character who is by turns abrasive and sympathetic.

Chris Evans is also elite as “Ransom” Drysdale, Linda’s son. 

A trust-fund baby hated by most of the Thrombey family, Evans is delightfully smug and seems to truly revel in his family’s misfortunes. 

Evans, most notable for having played Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, accomplishes the rare feat of making himself seem unlikable.

Daniel Craig is magnificent as Benoit Blanc. 

Armed with a Kentucky accent and a calculating demeanor, the action hero Daniel Craig disappears into his role as the decidedly un-Bond-like Benoit Blanc. 

Craig is witty, charming and genuinely likable even as he unknowingly pursues our protagonist. 

At times, Craig is even seemingly oblivious, what with how Marta outwits him on occasion.

Craig was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance, and deservedly so.

The movie, I will note, does suffer slightly on repeat viewings because of how much the

film relies on an initially slow dispensation of information to keep the audience curious about what is going on. 

My second time viewing the movie, I was less captivated in the early scenes because of my preexisting knowledge as to what would be revealed over the coming scenes. 

But all other aspects of the film are still impressive. The strength of the plot and the performances are more than enough to carry the film.

“Knives Out” is a triumph of suspenseful, character-driven filmmaking.

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