Wouldn’t you say, it’s “no time to die”… aye, Bond?
On the morning following his birthday, successful mystery novelist, Harlan Thrombey, is found dead leading master detective, Benoit Blanc, to investigate an entire family of suspects.
Rian Johnson, hot off his controversial take on the Star Wars saga with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has sprung back into action with his usual subversion of expectations in the genre of whodunnit. In Knives Out, Johnson takes an ensemble cast for a turn around the genre bending lane with genius direction, skilful writing and excellent performances resulting in one of the better films to be released in 2019.
A social commentary on the warring factions of the rich and the poor, Knives Out operates as not only an intelligent insight into modernity but also a darkly comical tale of exploits and vengeance.
Although a fan of Johnson’s earlier work including Brick, Looper and, yes, even The Last Jedi, I was a little unsure going into this film what to expect. In the last few years we’ve been receiving some rather questionable attempts at “whodunnit’s”, including Murder on the Orient Express and The Hateful Eight (the latter I actually enjoyed), but, to be frank, they have all seemingly tired the genre’s formula.
In Knives Out, the darkly comical flavour of the script altered many elements of the genre’s predicability. In fact, early into the film, Knives Out took a very unexpected turn that, ultimately, offered a breath of fresh air to the whodunnit narrative.
Witty to the very point and clever in its execution, Knives Out was able to create a sense of unexpected story and character arcs. Very similar to his previous work, Johnson’s genius shun through and allowed the plot to bend and contort in ways of unpredictability. Certain information and foreshadowed actions assisted in making Knives Out a unique experience in the murder mystery genre.
And leading such an excellently executed tale of twists and turns was Daniel Craig in one of 2019’s best performances. From his campy voice to his boastful swagger, the charismatic Craig stole the screen. Moving beyond his recent sedated and ageing turns of James Bond to really recapture the spirit of impassioned acting.
Ana de Armas, with her hefty screen load, also remakarbly proved her stardom; standing out against talent like Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Lakeith Stanfield and Christopher Plummer (all great by the way). Yet, I really have to hand it to Chris Evans especially.
Breaking the mould of his Boy Scout Captain America to instead channel his early career’s more bad boy approach, Evans genuinely took centre stage in Knives Out in my opinion. Sitting between hilarious and allusive, the beloved actor provided enough charisma and wit that made me think “hey, I don’t mind if he never does another Marvel movie; he’s pretty great”.
Although, if we were to specify the real star of this piece, it would have to be Johnson.
The careful orchestration of the script to the unique cinematography framing vast countrysides and tornadoes of knives, Johnson had a keen eye – a keen vision – that I am sure will not be as divisive as The Last Jedi.
A skilful attempt at taking a tried and true formula and altering certain elements to present something fresh, Johnson’s work on Knives Out solidifies it as one of 2019’s highest achievers.
Just a highly entertaining time at the cinema which does not force you to feel dumb and stale, Knives Out stood as a reminder to audiences that you can still have fun and think at the same time. Despite not having anything to do with Radiohead (missed opportunity), Knives Out propelled itself through pure charm and intelligence. An air of mystery asking to be breathed in, because truly, it’s one of the only life sources left in the cinema, nowadays.
Knives Out is, in fact… LOST ART