REVIEW: Knives Out (12a), (130 mins), Cineworld
There’s something deliciously stylish and intriguing about writer and director Rian Johnson’s starry tribute to the kind of country house murder mystery which Agatha Christie so famously made her own. And it’s in the spirit of the late, great Queen of Crime that Johnson bumps off the patriach straight away and immediately gives everyone the perfect reasons to have killed him.
Crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his rambling old mansion just after his 85th birthday. The housekeeper, keeping with convention, drops the breakfast tray in shock.
Within minutes, the motives are stacking up amongst the members of his grasping, dodgy family. He’s recently sacked one of them and threatened to expose another’s infidelity. Another has stormed out after a blazing row.
Oh, and another... he’d just told her he’d seen through her years of double dealing.
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All the elements are there, and they all given the perfect Agatha Christie twist. When the family gathers for the reading of the will, they soon learn that the old boy – and you can imagine his relish – has disinherited the lot in favour of his immigrant caregiver Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), a woman, we the audience, already know is far more involved in the mystery than she really ought to be.
Adding to the fun and overseeing the investigation with a detached humour and the drawliest of southern drawls is private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) – a man who comes with his own set of questions.
Just who has employed him? And have they set him up to fail?
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The resolution to it all is suitaby convoluted in a nothing’s what it seems type way, and there’s a contrast between the self-seeking family and the sweetly devoted caregiver such to make you think we are supposed to be detecting all sorts of social commentary here along the lines of the haves and the have-nots.
However, in the end, whatever its wit, whatever its plentiful charms, Knives Out leaves you just slightly struggling to see the point – beyond all its twists and turns, some nice work from Daniel Craig and some fun parts for Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson and Toni Collette among others.