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December 9, 2019

Knives Out (2019) --- “Everyone Has A Motive. No One Has A Clue.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     When a wildly successful crime novelist dies, Harlan Thromby (Christopher Plummer) turns up dead after his 85th birthday, it seems to be an open and shut case of suicide. But there are too many questions about the night before that aren’t lining up. With the help of Detective Lieutenant Elliot (Lakeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), an inquisitive Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives to investigate the evidence. From Harlan's dysfunctional family (Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Riki Lindhome) to his devoted staff (Ana de Armas and Edi Patterson), Blanc sifts through a web of half-truths and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan's untimely death. After all, was it really suicide? Or has there been foul play?
     Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) pays tribute to murder-mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in Knives Out (2019) by using a wonderfully entertaining mystery structure that would make her proud. Although the film is not based on a book nor was it written by Christie, it is very much a fun, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect. The story stays just far enough ahead of the audience to keep things very interesting with all the twists and turns as the inquiries build and the suspects are stripped of their defenses.
     With an all-star studded cast, the performances build the story and leave a lasting impression. Director Johnson gives the characters the time and freedom to develop some complex characters and stand apart from each other in many ways. Daniel Craig (Logan Lucky, No Time To Die) gives full commitment to his interesting and over the top character, Detective Benoit Blanc, by delivering some of his best and most hysterical lines in a Kevin Spacey Southern accent that is not really a true Southern accent. Ana de Armas (No Time To Die) is delightful as Harlan’s nurse and closest friend, Marta Cabrera, who feels isolated and alone with the rest of the family. Out of all the characters she carries most of the story, serving as the audience’s main perspective throughout the film. And as the story progresses and she becomes a more pivotal point in the mystery, she demonstrates the range and some unexpected comedic moments that help drive the story home. Harlan Thrombey is a charming monster and Christopher Plummer (Sound of Music) excels in playing those types of characters. Most recently Chris Evans is known for playing the patriotic and goody-two-shoes Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but here he relishes in playing the ruthless and complex grandson Ranson. He doesn’t hold back on spitting insults or being an arrogant asshole to everyone he meets. I believe he really thrived in this role and showed audiences that he has more to offer than just being Captain America. Michael Shannon (Shape of Water) is known for playing the antagonist character in films but here he delivers something different as the less antagonistic and more pathetic youngest son Walt.  Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) demonstrates that she is a force of charisma as the crisp and imposing eldest daughter Linda. The smaller and no less significant roles - Don Johnson (Watchmen series) as Richard Drysdale, Toni Collette (Unbelievable) as Joni Thrombey, Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You) as Detective Lieutenant Elliot, Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) as Megan "Meg" Thrombey, Jaeden Martell (IT) as Jacob Thrombey, Noah Segan (Looper) as Trooper Wagner, Edi Patterson (Righteous Gemstone) as Fran, Riki Lindhome (Duncanville) as Donna Thrombey, K Callan (Veep) as Wanetta "Great Nana" Thrombey, and even Frank Oz (best known as Yoda) as Harlan’s attorney - were great additions to the story’s character.
     Overall, Knives Out (2019) is an exciting and thought-provoking murder-mystery that would have made Agatha Christie proud. The story keeps ahead of the audience and continues to reveal clues and twists in unexpected ways that will keep you guessing even when you think you’ve figured it all out. When the film ends you will be left amazed at how the details revealed themselves and the overall outcome for each of the family members, including Marta. I highly recommend that you watch this film as soon as possible because I don’t think you will be disappointed. 

Final Vote --- 9 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
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Agatha and the Truth of Murder, mini-series (2018)
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The Alienist, mini-series (2018)
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Frankenstein Chronicles, TV series
Kingsman: The Secret Service ()
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Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Ordeal by Innocence (2018)
The Tourist (2010)

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