Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★½

If in December 2017 we did a survey of who were the most hated men in the history of mankind, probably Rian Johnson would appear in front of Adolf Hitler or any other killer of babies and puppies, at the top of that list. There aren't many films that have been so divisive in recent years, especially if we're talking about blockbusters, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).

One might like the film or not, and say that Johnson basically decimated the franchise (which I don't agree with, but that's not what we're going to discuss here), yet it always bothered me to call into question his capabilities as a director. Both Looper (2012) and especially Brick (2005), are very well written, original films, and excellently directed. So surely it won't be because Rian Johnson didn't give the millions of fanboys and manchilds what they wanted or projected for the series, that suddenly he's now a lousy filmmaker.

That said, and in a very interesting next step for his career, he went back to basics. A simple murder mistery, Cluedo style. The old millionaire Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his mansion. It is up to Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to unravel the truth behind this death. The whole family is suspicious, each member has its secret and represents a small piece of the puzzle, and the main piece is Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), the nurse of Harlan, his only friend, and also the only kind soul in the mansion, which in a way, is the key to solving all this.

Knives Out couldn't be more what it is. Rian Johnson knows, as anyone who has ever played Clue, watched 56 seasons of CSI or has fallen asleep during an episode of Poirot, what are the thousand hundred clichés of the genre and how boring and cheesy they can be.

Knowing this, all characters are very “tongue and cheek” and each incorporates habits of the genre: the rich and false woman, the cheating husband, the old crazy lady, the scammer daughter-in-law, etc. etc. And at the center of all this is Daniel Craig, who’s having fun like I've never seen him before, with a very thick accent, brutal charisma and an unshakable charm.

A giant house, full of historical, sinister and bizarre material that could have been taken from a book by Agatha Christie, which make all the scenes passed inside immensely more interesting than any others in the exterior, both aesthetically and narratively; a soundtrack with fast and shrill strings that immediately set the tone for the whole film. It's all a wink to the almost rotten style of "Who done it?", with a lot of references and small clues for anyone who’s looking.

All these elements work around Johnson's script, and if the mystery isn't good, it doesn't serve much, doesn't it? But it is, it may not be incredible in the sense of really raising the curiosity of who committed the crime, but it pays off with the sharp humor and a whole relaxed posture in which we only have to lean on our sit and have fun with these crazy people. Maybe it's not ideal, but it's undeniable that it's virtually impossible to see this movie and not have a smile on your face.

It is its simplicity that make Knives Out immensely enjoyable, with great characters and performances and laid-back mood. The mystery may not be out the most tense thing in the world, but it's more than competent, embellished (once again) by the excellent achievement of one of the most hated men by white, obese, neckbearded guys with a greasy Star Wars t-shirt.