Once upon a time, Rian Johnson went from being a uniquely-voiced and rapidly-emerging filmmaker to instantly becoming the man who ruined the Star Wars saga. Needless to say, I didn’t (and still don’t) have a favorable view of Johnson’s The Last Jedi. But what a difference two years can make, as the stains of Johnson’s past can hardly be noticed courtesy of a brand-new, briskly-paced whodunit mystery that reminds us all just how brilliant of a writer and director he can be.
Knives Out tells the perversely entertaining and fictional story of beloved crime novelist, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who shockingly dies on the evening of his 85th birthday celebration. With a massively wealthy estate and a host of friends and relatives at the residence, each with their own motives and agendas, everyone must be considered a suspect. Thankfully, the witty and astute detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has been mysteriously hired to unmask the truth behind Thombley’s unexpected death.
Rian Johnson’s cleverly crafted screenplay serves as the backbone to this unpredictable and amusing whodunit film. Knives Out cycles through a series of suspects and motives all while purposely tipping its hand quite a bit. Yet, as we soon find out, there are many mysteries buried within the veins of this story. And all throughout this creative and original script rests a healthy dose of humor and a diverse collection of notable characters, each of whom add a unique element to the overlying mystery. These characters come to life superbly thanks to one of 2019’s finest ensembles. Along with the aforementioned Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer, co-stars Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, LaKeith Stanfield and Don Johnson all deliver well-rounded performances that play off one another perfectly. Yet, it’s the underdog of the cast, up-and comer Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), who truly steals the show with a deeply committed and soulful turn of her own. Knives Out has all the makings of an Original Screenplay Oscar contender, the script really is that good. If you’re in search of an energetic mystery that’s guaranteed to keep you guessing, Rian Johnson’s page-turning new effort not only has what you’re looking for, it’s one of the best films of year.