I do love public preview screenings. Since I am not associated to any associations I don’t typically get to see movies before the release date. Tonight was an exception. Granted I debated going to see Frozen II again and the manager at the theatre thought I was until I showed the ticket. I’ve been curious about the movie since the surrealish tongue in cheek trailer dropped a few months ago. I mean watching Chris Evans tell everyone he is not playing Captain America anymore by repeatedly telling people off frame to “Eat Sh**”. Daniel Craig attempting a Kentucky/southern accent in itself is an entertaining concept. Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Ana de Armas were additional incentive to get me in the seat tonight.
So is it time for a nice Knives out?
Yeah not my best play on words, but I’ll own it. Written and directed by Rian Johnson it was a pleasure to see him get back to his roots. Sure everyone knows him for the work he did on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which I don’t hate but many people do. Looper, which had a ridiculous amount of studio interference on his plot, casting, and editing. They literally forced Bruce Willis on him and made them change Joseph Gordon-Levitt to look more like Willis. Yeah that kind of interference. This movie however reminds me of his original film I saw, Brick. Its a murder mystery with all the twists and turns you would hope for but with a style I can’t quite put my finger on – wait nevermind. Where Brick was full on hard boiled 1930’s noir, this plays more like Poirot via Agatha Christie.
The plot is really quite simple. The patriarch of a family, (Christopher friggin Plummer) is found dead the night after his 85th birthday. The police are investigating everyone involved, and private investigator Benoit Blanc (Craig) has also been brought in to find out who was involved, what their motive was, and why they think they can get away with it. The family is peopled with jerks all with their own motives shallow and deep, so it truly is a whodunit. This is *not* Clue, and I will reiterate that point later. It’s not even a black comedy. It is a murder mystery with humorous undertones at the execution of the investigation, which again hearkens back to some of the 1960’s and 70’s mysteries of a similar style. There’s even a full on Murder She Wrote clip in the middle of the film on someone’s TV. It doesn’t get better than that.
It helps to have some talented actors playing the despicable members of the family. Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) as the eldest daughter, while Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges) plays her husband. Toni Collette (Hereditary) continues to pick all the right roles, this time taking the widowed daughter in law, while Katherine Langford (Love Simon) plays her daughter. Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Man of Steel), takes a more subdued role as the youngest son. Then you have Chris Evans (Captain America) as an arrogant (and amusing) grandson; with Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) as a nurse who took care of the patriarch. Craig then is our southern fried detective with ridiculous accent and mannerisms; furthering my Poirot theory.
From a technical standpoint, its shot well using the expansive house and the surrounding area for maximum effect. The way the mystery unravels and reveals itself also is done with an experts hand in my personal opinion – which lets face it if you are reading this you are asking for.
I still have issues writing reviews for murder mysteries as I maintain my 100% no spoiler rule on new releases. I enjoyed myself with this one trying to figure out if everything being given to me is objectively true. There are enough correct lines and clever red herrings that you’ll know whats up, but be questioning if you are sure or what really played out.
Should I see it?
If you like mysteries? Yes. I think it plays to its strengths, looks to be the love letter I am assuming it is.
Would you watch it again?
Yeah I would. I don’t think I will be, but I have Frozen II to watch again.
Are you going to buy it?
Pretty sure I am. I think there is some decent rewatch value in it if for nothing else than to see everyone and I mean everyone competing to chew scenery.
I laughed, I enjoyed it. Folks around me seemed to be enjoying it. It’s not a game changer in this genre by any stretch. I don’t think this will redeem Rian Johnson for people who don’t like his work, but for those who enjoy his projects this is going to be right up their alley.