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  • Writer's pictureMichael Pogach

Pogach Reviews: Knives Out

If the primary job of a movie is to entertain, then Knives Out is a brilliant film. It’s fun. It twists. The cast is excellent (minus Daniel Craig’s unforgiveable southern accent). And the spectacle is just that: a spectacle.

Knives Out is a whodunit, locked room mystery perfect for Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot or Nancy Drew. It gives every classic element of the genre while pacing and delivering itself in anything but a staid cliché. Mystery author Harlan Thrombey is found dead the morning following his all-family-on-deck 85th birthday party, his throat cut. The evidence and manner of his death makes for a clear determination of suicide, and results in his family immediately falling over themselves to claim the pieces of his estate and legacy they expect to be given in the will. Everything goes to hell, however, when Harlan’s will is read, and it’s discovered he’s left everything to his nurse and caregiver, Marta.

Enter Benoit Blanc, a private detective hired anonymously by a wad of cash and an unsigned note to determine what really happened to Harlan. Blanc is an observer, talker, and interrogator more than a plucker of evidence, though he gets his hands on a few key pieces.

The family’s dysfunction is immediate and enjoyable. Daniel Craig, as Blanc, is excellent (again, except for his ridiculous accent). Chris Evans is a blast as Harlan’s grandson. And writer/director Rian Johnson shows again he’s not afraid to play with expectation or trope in any genre. From Looper to The Last Jedi to Knives Out, he’s proving himself to be a filmmaker who gets how to reinvent brands (taking on time travel, Star Wars, and now the detective story). He also doesn’t shy away from political, social, and class commentary.

Knives Out is fun, surprising, familiar in just the right number of ways without ever becoming predictable, and it looks great. Best of all, the ending is completely satisfying, something I’ve been finding less and less in movies in recent years.

4 / 5 stars.


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