Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★★½

Just an absolute blast from start to finish. A true ensemble piece where every single actor fires on all cylinders. It has all the frills of an Agatha Christie novel with all the thrills of an INTENSE game of Clue (and boy do I friggen LOVE Clue!). Rian Johnson’s passion project somehow defies the typical passion project stigma by being truly mainstream and crowd-pleasing in every sense of the term. You can tell that EVERYONE who worked on this film, cast and crew, had a splendid ol’ time making it - that type of joyous energy just drips through the screen. 

When I say mainstream, I don’t mean that this film is dumb - just the opposite actually. "Knives Out" is, as any top-tier murder mystery should be, immensely complex and deftly labyrinthine in its plot. The beauty of Rian Johnson's script is how he allows you to solve the mystery along with the detectives. Of course there are few moments when you start to get ahead of the movie, but these moments are perfectly calculated and executed by Johnson - as soon as you start to gain confidence, the film throws in a twist that knocks you right on your ass. It's this back and forth, this cycle of slowly figuring out the mystery in one moment then getting severely duped in another, that makes this film such a damn fun time to watch.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how goddamn FUNNY this film is. There are a few moments - especially with Daniel Craig's and Michael Shannon's characters - that had me in absolute stitches (who knew donut holes could be so hilarious?). Speaking of Craig, from the trailers I thought his comical Southern accent (which gets called out multiple times in the film) would get grating over time, but to my surprise the opposite happened. Craig fully commits to this character, and with the help of Johnson's incredible dialogue, I ended up craving more and more scenes with this guy. I've never been so happy to have been so astronomically wrong about how I would take to a character. In a just world, Craig would get a Best Supporting Actor nomination. I'm serious, he's that good.

But other than being just a really good time at the movies, "Knives Out" is also surprisingly VERY political, and in these tumultuous political times I am ALL for it. Certain characters in this film are bigots who think that America is for Americans, and think that illegal immigrants don't deserve to be here simply because they "didn't get here the right way", the irony being that these characters barely worked a day in their lives and inherited their wealth instead of earning it. They think they’re entitled to their money simply because they are white, American, and their father is rich. Johnson is quick to skewer these types of folks, but he also adds thoughtful messages about the importance of virtues and the value of actual hard work. There’s an emotional center to this film represented by one particular character, and as we follow him or her throughout the mystery it becomes clear what Johnson is trying to say. It’s up to us to practice what he preaches.

Gosh, Rian Johnson just seems like a swell guy, huh?

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