Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2019
Back in the days of black-and-white, mystery films were quite common but as the years went by, they became less and less common with the mystery genre becoming the domain of television. This is a pity, because I like an old-fashioned mystery. Between this movie and Murder on the Orient Express, it's nice to see the genre make a comeback. Director/writer Rian Johnson was definitely trying to evoke an old school mystery film with this homage, and after seeing the trailers, I definitely wanted to see this. I even went to a farther away early access screening because I couldn't wait. I'm pleased to say this definitely met my expectations.
Knives Out is just a really well told movie. For 2 hr., 10 min., this is finely paced and edited. Johnson really knows how to steer the story, especially the beginning and introduction to the facts of the case.
Besides being a mystery, this movie is also a critique of privilege, which I felt Johnson managed to not beat the audience over the head with. The movie also has a good sense of humor.
The suspects consist of the Thrombey family, who from one extent to another all have leeched off of the money and success of patriarch and mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). They are such a delightfully self-entitled but diverse group of larger-than-life dysfunctional people. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get more of them. (Ana de Armas' Marta Cabrera, Harlan's personal nurse, is the actual star of the film.) I especially thought that Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis) is given short shrift.
The cast is excellent all the way through, and I just don't have time to mention everyone. The best performance is by Daniel Craig as Southern gentlemen detective Benoit Blanc. He just kills it as the eccentric and well-spoken detective. I also appreciate that Benoit isn't portrayed as a socially awkward, mircaulous wunderkind as is often the case with detectives these days. Benoit is definitely the smartest guy in the room, but solving the case is real work for him. Again, this is Ana's story. The trailers make Benoit look like the lead. Just don't want you to have false expectations. He is one of the biggest players, make no mistakes.
The movie looks great. The Thrombey estate is delightfully grand and old-fashioned looking and is decorated with a wide assortment of mystery-themed or antiquated bric-a-brac. The outfits all look great as well.
There is only one thing about this movie that bothered me. The score tries for a classic mystery feel to it but tries too hard. A couple times it felt like they were just blasting the music in my face.
Overall, this is just a very entertaining movie and definitely something for mystery fans.