Director Rian Johnson has successfully created a genuine mystery tale, an intricate and alluring silver-screen stage play. Unfolding as a modern whodunnit, Knives Out keeps the genre fresh and exciting all the way through its 130-minute runtime. The massive cast of characters blends expertly well with each other, impressive considering the scope of the film. Filled with a constant sense of distressing enjoyment, Knives Out is ultimately about mystery wrapped in fun, and audiences are treated to plenty of both. Also penned by Johnson, the story moves quickly and is never over-the-top with its complexities. There is a lot packed into this movie, filled to the brim with subtle humor, intriguing concepts, and good old-fashioned detective work.
Known as the "last of the gentleman sleuths," Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), is anonymously called on to investigate the suicide of famed mystery author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). Harlan's children, Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Walt (Michael Shannon), together with in-laws, Joni (Toni Collette) and Richard (Don Johnson), are all brought into questioning, as something appears fishy. The authorities also investigate Harlan's grandchildren and hired help, including Marta (Ana de Armas), his personal nurse, and Ransom (Chris Evans), the black sheep of the family. As Blanc pieces together the retelling of the night before, the family's insecurities and dramas all start to unfold.
Perhaps the most extraordinary feat Knives Out accomplishes is the seamlessness of it all. The film flows perfectly, dropping hints and clues throughout, while never holding the audience's hand. Johnson spins together a mystery-drama that is not only intense, but light-hearted and an absolute blast to watch. The vast cast of characters is altogether interesting, as everyone is unique and contributes to the story. Daniel Craig is hilarious as Beniot Blanc, highlighted by his emphasized southern drawl and consistent quips of intelligence. By combining this cast with an intriguing story and the masterful setting (seemingly popping right out of the game of "Clue"), Johnson expertly weaves the film together.
If there is one negative to the film, there looks to be a bit of "cinematic convenience" as the story unfolds, and the mystery is solved. Johnson made the decision to concentrate on the journey rather than the big reveal, and the ending does consequently take a small hit. This minor blemish is just a minor disappointment from an otherwise great movie.
Almost giving off the aura of a live show, the engaging nature of Knives Out is its biggest accomplishment. Never a dull moment, the dysfunctional Thrombey family is a treat to watch. It is as if each scene ends with a cliffhanger, as the audience constantly and increasingly wonders what comes next. The very definition of a family film, Knives Out is a pleasant getaway and a highly recommended crime-drama.