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review: Knives Out

An All-Star Cast Makes Murder Fun Again

  

Knives Out

 ****  

Rated: PG-13

Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Stars: Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer

Writer/Director: Rian Johnson


Yes, Knives Out is the cinematic equivalent of comfort food: a classic murder-in-a-locked-room whodunit complete with an eccentric detective (Daniel Craig), who grills a galaxy of all-star suspects, each more obviously guilty than the last. 


And yes, he even calls a final drawing room assembly so the motley crew — including Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon and Don Johnson — can sweat it out right up to the moment of the final triumphant reveal. 


And it's all those comfortable-as-an-old-shoe elements that conspire to make Knives Out as much fun as you'll have at the movies this year. There's a reason people still buy Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books: in the hands of a master, the mystery genre is as irresistible as it is repetitive. And with Knives Out, writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper, The Last Jedi) proves he's got the soft hands and tight grip necessary to pull it off. 


Of courses, it helps that he's assembled a dream cast from top to bottom, beginning with Daniel Craig as the detective charged with getting to the bottom of a seemingly impossible crime: A world-famous mystery writer (Christopher Plummer) has been found with his throat slashed in his locked attic bedroom. The heirs gather  — each of them with reason to believe they've been written out of the Old Man's will.  


Crashing the party is detective Benoit Blanc, whose name conjurs up images of Hercule Poirot but whose Southern accent sounds more like Sheriff Andy of Mayberry. Continuing his Southern sojourn that began in Logan Lucky — in which he played a good ol’ boy named Jim Bang — Craig here drawls through his last NASCAR pit stop before returning to the role of 007.   


The resolution of Knives Out at times seems a long time coming, and it isn’t quite the out-of-left-field surprise you might have hoped for. Still, writer/director Rian Johnson keeps his audience sufficiently off-balance to make things interesting. Christopher Plummer — dashing, funny, and ageless — is positively delightful as the film’s victim/provocateur. 

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