Review: ‘Knives Out’ puts a spin on the old-fashioned whodunit for modern audiences

The film features one of the largest ensemble casts in a single film in years

Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig and more star in this knockout thriller.

Strip this film down to its bare bones. Take away the explosive powerhouse of a cast. Take away the thought-provoking score and gorgeous set pieces and you are left with one of the most entertaining murder mystery films of the 21st century.

“Knives Out,” the latest film from director Rian Johnson (“Looper,” “Star Wars VII: The Last Jedi”), is a game of Clue that’s come to life in a new form interesting to all audience members. The film is largely in the vein of famous author Agatha Christie, complete with several twists, turns and not leaving a single stone unturned.

Characters are inserted into roles the audience has never seen them in before. Look no further than Daniel Craig sporting a comedic southern accent described by another character as “CSI KFC,” or Chris Evans (America’s protagonist) playing into the role of the charming bad guy and black sheep of the family. These components refuse to let the movie be taken too seriously.

This flick plays out best if the moviegoer enters knowing as little as possible. The plot twists don’t just assist in progressing the story, they are the story itself. Each line in the script was written with meticulous craft, leaving an air-tight plot that doesn’t have a single hole up for debate.

The upper-class Thrombey family state they “have it all.” When they say “all,” they mean money. No film has better portrayed a shallow family that will turn on one another in an instant if the money runs dry.

Patriarch of the family, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), built the family fortune on the successful run of mystery novels he wrote. His imagination is far brighter than the rest of the family, who didn’t inherit his best traits. The family members aren’t ridiculous because of their wealthy mindset, but because each of them firmly believes they came from nothing and achieved the high status themselves.

When Harlan passes away suddenly and mysteriously, everyone believed he had committed suicide. That is until a trio of detectives arrive questioning his potential murder.

As in many other murder mysteries, everyone is a suspect of the crime. What sets this story apart, however, is that everyone has the motives that line up to be a perfect suspect. It’s an exciting change of pace that leaves a breadcrumb trail of hints and teases along the way to the truth.

This film works as well as it does because of writer/director Rian Johnson’s clear love for the genre. After a decade of large blockbuster hits from him, it’s satisfying to see him taking his time on a film he poured his heart and soul into crafting. It’s not until the final minutes of the two-hour blame game that the story is completely unpacked and justice is served, complete with one of the best final visual shots in recent memory.

Seeing an audience from ages 6 to 65 laugh with one another, sit on the edge of their seat in anticipation and be enthralled in every twist is truly something special that doesn’t come along often.

With an abundance of critically acclaimed movies being released this year, “Knives Out” isn’t one to be overlooked. It’s a love letter to the stories of Agatha Christie and a mystery film that reinvents the standard of whodunit movies that will surely not be forgotten for years to come.

Review: 4.5/5

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