By Troy Hasselman, December 11 2019 —
Rian Johnson’s whodunnit comedy-drama Knives Out is, to put it simply, a good time. The plot unrolls like a game of Clue dropped in an episode of Arrested Development. The movie acts as an, occasionally too on the nose, satire of the upper crust of the Northeastern United States while telling an enthralling mystery story that is held together by the movies’ ridiculously stacked cast.
While the plot of the movie itself is ridiculously fun, this is one of those movies where the less that is known about it going in the better. The basic plot is that wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey and patriarch of a New England family turns up dead the morning after his 85th birthday. An investigation follows and chaos ensues amidst a heated battle over his estate.
That being said, the best part of this movie is the casting. You have Christopher Plummer as Thrombey, Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Shannon as Thrombey’s children that are as selfish as they are hapless, Toni Collete as Thrombey’s New Age influencer daughter-in-law, Chris Evans as Thrombey’s playboy, failure Grandson, Ana De Armas as the Thrombey’s good-hearted nurse and Daniel Craig as the southern private investigator Benoit Blanc.
It is difficult to overstate how jarring it is to first hear Daniel Craig’s southern accent and how entertaining he is throughout the movie as a character that brings out all of the tropes of the southern detective with the unflappability that you come to expect from Daniel Craig. In this movie Craig surpasses Robert Pattinson in The King as the year’s most forgivable instance of an actor’s accent being completely unsuited for them.
The film does commentate on class and race in America with Ana De Armas’ character status as the daughter of an illegal immigrant and the jarring class differences between herself and the Thrombey family playing a major role in the film. It still manages to maintain a breezy tone throughout,with Craig’s soliloquies acting as great comic-relief throughout the film.
Knives Out is a movie that aims for sheer entertainment and achieves that in spades thanks to excellent casting and a referential script that spins a delightfully modern take on the Hercule Poirot stories that form the basis of the lore that Knives Out draws from.