Review: Knives Out

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Knives Out is a fun, twisting whodunit, directed by Rian Johnson of Looper fame, which harks back to the crime drama of his debut film, Brick. Johnson, using a stellar cast of well-known actors, does what he is best known for, takes a traditional, classic genre, and gives it his signature deconstruction. The resulting film is a well-paced, engaging film with standout performances and some interesting narrative layers.

First, the main attractions, the characters. Each character in this film is an obvious (but slightly more subtle than normal) stereotype of some kind, from the grizzled southern private investigator played by Daniel Craig to the shy, mild but hard-working immigrant nurse played by Ana de Armas. 

Although some of these characters may come across as cliché (particularly when adjusting to Craig’s accent), they work very well together with the ensemble of big-name supporting actors such as Jamie Lee Curtis, creating a big, dysfunctional family that has a lot to hide. 

Image Credit: IMDb

Although in some places the story may falter if you stop and think about the logistics of it, it doesn’t affect your viewing experience, its pace and mystery keep hold of your attention throughout, and it’s over before you can start to nitpick its few discrepancies. The beauty of the mystery in this film is that it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and ends up being a refreshing change to the similar films that have come before it.

My personal favourite part of the film is that Chris Evans finally gets to play against his type, that type being the paragon of virtue, Captain America. Instead, he is allowed to have fun with being generally abrasive, manipulative and rude, you can see the glint in his eye as he tells a room full of people to “eat shit”, not very noble of you, Cap.

The same goes for Daniel Craig, after holding the mantle of Bond for 14 years, recently he’s been seen to go for more eccentric American characters, here as the charismatic detective Benoit Blanc, and previously seen as the southern safe-cracker Joe Bang in 2017’s Logan Lucky (Bond, Blanc and Bang, there’s a joke in there somewhere). His performance shines here, showing off his usual charm with some decent comedic timing and an accent that I really wish was my real voice. 

However, the standout performance is the unassuming nurse played by Ana de Armas, who has been a rising star since 2015, in a role that becomes more complex as the film goes on. Her character evolves throughout the film, and is portrayed brilliantly, from the reserved exterior to the morally conscious interior, and as the plot speeds through, she becomes the film’s heart. Generally, if you enjoy murder-mystery style films with some enjoyable characters and a twisting narrative, you’ll enjoy this film too. Even if your experience with Star Wars: The Last Jedi has shaken your faith in Rian Johnson, I would urge you to give this film a chance, it’s a fun time, no hot takes required.

Image Credit: IMDb