Film Reviews

Knives Out (dir. Johnson)

Johnson pulls his best Wes Anderson but falls a little short of the mark

Image: Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in Knives Out © Photo by Claire Folger [Source:IMDB]

★★★☆☆

A detective investigates the death of the patriarch of a loud, eccentric and combative family.

Director: Rian Johnson. Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer [12A]

It’s been a while since mainstream Hollywood brought a classic ‘whodunit’ to the big screen full of an all-star cast. Johnson leads the feature with admittedly a refreshing script and story in the packed out listings of superhero flicks.

But sadly the film quickly undercuts itself by the legs by telling you exactly who did it not long after it has established each character and every possible motive. For at least 10 minutes you will have fallen into the exact trap Johnson has set for you. You believe Johnson is foolish enough to take all suspense and drama out of the picture half an hour into the film. But you quickly come around to the logic that there are another two hours to go so it dictates that you haven’t got the full picture.

But does this really add mystery and suspense back into the film? A hard no. Johnson seems to think he is being clever and subversive to the genre by attempting to flip it on its head but unfortunately, all this does it let all the fuel out of its engine. An audience rolling its eyes as the list of possible suspects is incredibly short and there is no encouraging clues or details for the audience to play along in attempting to pin down the murderer. Instead, Johnson locks the audience off and instead tries to make himself appear as a mastermind – not realising by the time he reveals who was behind it all, the audience has already figured out what actually happened and how the main character was framed.

Despite there not being much taste to the narrative, the performances and characters are deliciously flamboyant and flavour. Johnson pulls his best Wes Anderson with this colourful cast. Each performance bursting with fun and talent that helps keeps an otherwise bored audience engaged with the character interactions entwined in a well thought through backstory from Johnson. He does well to create a world of characters that I absolutely wanted more from, but he doesn’t get all that much to feed on with all but three characters which leave the audience wanting. Elsewise the score feels appropriate and the dialogue is snappy and full of jokes. Johnson brings not so much a classic ‘whodunit’ but more a this person did it but let’s enjoy the comedy of these characters and you know what, I’m okay with that.

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