U/A: Thriller, Comedy
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans
In his first cinematic outing following his act as the shield-wielding superhero Captain America in Avengers: Endgame — only punctuated by the Netflix release The Red Sea Diving Resort — Chris Evans transforms seamlessly from being Hollywood’s nice guy to an arrogant and ‘entitled’ “black sheep” of the Thrombey family. And despite his seven-year stint of consistently charming viewers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Evans manages to be instantly despicable in director Rian Johnson’s first offering since Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).
A power-packed flock of performers — including Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, 13 Reasons Why fame Katherine Langford and the beautifully-cast protagonist, Ana de Armas, also seen in Blade Runner 2049 — ensures this whodunit elevates from being a murder mystery to a delightful blend of satire and thrill. At the crux of it all is the enchanting Daniel Craig as private detector Benoit Blanc, anonymously appointed to investigate the suicide/murder of the ultra-accomplished author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) on the close of his 85th birthday. With his multi-million heritage now up for grabs, his extended family is put up to trial by Blanc, who lifts the veil off their best-kept secrets to unveil their selfish motives. As he moves from member to member of the Thrombey family, it becomes increasingly evident that each one had reason enough to have delivered the final blow. Harlan’s eldest daughter Linda (Curtis) considers herself a self-made woman, except that her empire stands on a $1 million sanction from her father. Linda also looks down upon younger brother Walt (Shannon) for merely managing their father’s business, even though Walt considers himself more capable of making decisions for the empire. Harlan’s daughter-in-law, Joni (Toni Collette) a widow, is also dependent on his monthly cheques to send daughter Meg (Langford) to an expensive college, but is caught siphoning off an equivalent amount through her beauty company, Flam. Linda’s son Ransom (Evans) is the misfit in this already crumbling family; one who fails to turn up for Harlan’s funeral but doesn’t miss his will-reading session.
The fast pace at which facts are revealed seems rather unfamiliar for a thriller, which may lead viewers to think it isn’t as sharp as it seems. But this murder mystery successfully turns the focus from how things happen, to why they do. It only makes sense then that Johnson employ a cast capable of impactfully revealing motives, instead of merely assisting in unveiling fact after fact. The heart of the film is inarguably Craig, who, despite a limited screen-time, lingers on your mind long after it concludes. You cannot take your eyes of him as he plays Blanc with such amusement that he seems rather relieved to not be pulling off another James Bond. Armas, as Harlan’s care-taker and the only one who possibly knows the secrets of the family, is amusingly shown as one who throws up when she’s made to lie. She’s almost like Blanc’s polygraph machine. But Johnson manages to elevate what could have been a rather silly facet in a murder mystery into a tool that lightens up the 120-minute long film.
Watch the trailer of Knives Out here
It’s not too difficult to put a finger on who could have done it, if at all it was done. And even then, the viewer is instantly drawn into the film from the word go, and is left with no time to dwindle, until the end. Dialogues are infused so beautifully into scenes that aim to turn the attention in another direction, that it would possibly take two viewings of the film (like we did), to earnestly appreciate them. With Frozen 2 continuing its winning streak this week, and Knives Out being a sure addition to your must-see list, evidently there’s enough to chew on from the international turf this weekend.
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