Knives Out (2019)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 1/11/21
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Chris Evans

After the disappointing and often infuriating "The Last Jedi" (2017), writer/director Rian Johnson redeems himself with this slick and satisfying murder mystery. Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a wealthy old author who seemingly commits suicide after his 85th birthday - or does he? While the police conclude it was suicide, private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is anonymously hired to dig deeper into the case, which becomes increasingly twisted and complicated. To say anything more would be a great disservice to anyone who wants to see the movie.

It's a superbly crafted film and looks fantastic. The performances are excellent, assuming you can get past Daniel Craig's ridiculous Foghorn Leghorn accent. That was an odd choice, to be sure. Harlan's entire family is completely despicable, and his nurse/caretaker Marta (stunning Ana de Armas) is the only likable and relatable character in the cast (apart from Harlan himself). She is absolutely amazing, and my heart ached every time she was onscreen. The tension becomes nearly unbearable as her world collapses under the increasing scrutiny of Blanc's investigation and the Thrombey household's inexcusable cruelty and greed. Marta is the kindest, sweetest, and most caring, thoughtful, and selfless character in the film, which through no fault of her own makes her everyone's enemy. The writing is smart and complex, and the film requires multiple viewings to reconcile all of the various pieces and moving parts. While I generally dislike films about terrible people doing terrible things, this one definitely goes out on a high note.