‘Knives Out’ combines intriguing mystery with sharp wit

Noah Grabianski, Staff Writer

No matter what you thought of Rian Johnson’s most recent film Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he is an undeniably good writer and director, shown by his multiple awards for directing, such as his Directors Guild of America award for his writing in hit crime show Breaking Bad. Thankfully, Johnson’s skills carried into his most recent films, Knives Out. This film is one of the best of the year, as Johnson’s writing and directing mixes wonderfully with its all-star cast. 

Knives Out is not the ensemble piece that its ads and trailers make itself out to be. While famous actors Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, and Michael Shannon have quite large parts in the movie, the main story centers around Cuban-Spanish film actress Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig. Craig trades in his suave James Bond voice for a slightly over-the-top southern accent for his role as Detective Benoit Blanc, who is mysteriously asked to investigate the death of rich mystery author Harlan Thrombey at the end of his 85th birthday party. At the center of this mystery is the man’s personal nurse, played by de Armas, known for Knock Knock and Blade Runner 2049. However, Craig and de Armas aren’t the only characters that shine in Knives Out. Chris Evans, known for his performances as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, proves himself as one of the best actors in this film, despite being present for only the second half of the movie. Thrombey may be the victim in this story, but his portrayal by world-renowned actor Christopher Plummer is award-worthy.

This film will appeal to all types of mystery lovers. Despite enough clues for a keen viewer to unravel the mystery, Johnson makes sure that the story isn’t predictable. Unless you have an avid sense of viewing movies, chances are you won’t be able to solve the mystery before Detective Blanc. But the writing isn’t the only thing that makes Knives Out an incredible movie. Directing, coming through strong in the movie is the main thing that sets it apart from its genre’s counterparts. Intricate camera angles and carefully planned shots give the movie a certain ominous mood that sets it aside from Johnson’s other movies as one of the best. Light and color combine wonderfully in almost every shot. While most directors focus too heavily on showing characters, Johnson utilizes the set and turns what would normally be a bleak setting in a mystery movie to a beautiful landscape. With most of the shots angled level of the actor’s heads, watching in a theater with a large screen will make you feel like you’re actually in the movie, taking part in the family’s conversations and staring down suspects.

Knives Out will be a great experience for anybody who watches because it has something for everyone. This film seems like a turning point in the mystery genre, which has definitely felt tired after recent duds like Adam Sandler’s Murder Mystery and the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s renowned novel Murder on the Orient Express. If there’s any movie to be looking for in awards season, it’s Knives Out