Knives Out, rated PG-13
Knives Out is a well-written, acted and directed film about the death of a famous mystery writer, which is assumed to be a suicide. But is it?
The film was written and directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi). The film had an estimated budget of $40 million.
Harlan Thrombey, played by Oscar winner Christopher Plummer (Beginners, All the Money in the World), is a successful and reclusive mystery writer. The film opens with his housekeeper Fran, played by Edi Patterson, finding him dead with his throat slit and a knife nearby. His death is assumed to be a suicide. Thrombey’s grown children gathered at his mansion to celebrate his 85th birthday the previous evening. Police officers Lieutenant Elliot, played by LaKeith Stanfield, and Trooper Wagner, played by Noah Segan come to the home to investigate Thrombey’s death, interviewing each of the family members. They include daughter Linda, played by two-time Golden Globe winner Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies, Anything But Love), who owns a real estate business that was funded by her father, her husband Richard, a political conservative, played by Golden Globe winner Don Johnson (Miami Vice), son Walt, played by two-time Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, Revolutionary Road), who runs his father’s publishing business and has been having disagreements with his father over selling the film rights to his books, and daughter-in-law Joni, played by Oscar nominee Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), who runs a skin care business and has been stealing money from Thrombey. Marta Cabrera, played by Ana de Armas, (Blade Runner 2049), is Thrombey’s trusted home nurse, who the family members humorously state that she is from a number of different countries throughout the film.
The police are ready to confirm that Thrombey’s death was by suicide.
Then, detective Benoit Blanc, played by Emmy nominee Daniel Craig (One Life, James Bond films) complete with humorous southern drawl and a huge ego, begins to ask questions. He has been asked by an anonymous client to investigate the death, having received a news clipping about the suicide of Thrombey along with an envelope of cash on his doorstep. He eventually tells them all that he suspects foul play, and that none of them can leave the mansion. It turns out that there are several members of the family that might have a motive to kill Thrombey. Linda and Richard’s son Ransom, played by Chris Evans (Captain America, Avengers films), who did not attend his grandfather’s funeral, shows up in time for Thrombey’s will to be read.
Will Blanc find out the truth about the death of Thrombey? Was it a murder, rather than a suicide? And if it was, who did it? And, who was it that contacted Blanc in the first place?
Themes in the film include truth, doing the right thing, greed, deception and lying.
Content concerns include adult language, including the abuse of God’s name, some brief violence, and sexual references.
The film features an excellent cast, with several award winners, sharp writing and dialogue, plenty of humor, some political commentary, and unpredictable twists in the script.
Knives Out is a well-made film, that moves slowly as the story builds. It is marred somewhat by a significant amount of adult language.