Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Murder Mysteries can be an enticing concept. The idea of solving an unsolvable murder has been a captivating story that has been proven effective in a number of mediums; from the novels of Agatha Christie to the various crime dramas seen on television. However, while the idea endures, murder mysteries can be a dime and a dozen and if you have seen one then there is a chance that you have seen them all. However that may not be the case for the newest mystery sleuthing its way to the big screen: Knives Out. Directed by Rian Johnson, Knives Out looked to be an intriguing crime as the trailers put a spin on the concept of murder mysteries. The movie has received an array of positive reviews but could this new mystery steal the respect of this Film Adventurer? Well after seeing it for myself I must admit that while the film gets a little tangled, Knives Out is indeed an homage to its genre.
The story of Knives Out centers Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) who is hired to solve the death of mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). The events that follow pits the entire Thrombey family against each other and places caretaker Marta Cabera (Ana De Armas) right in the center of the crime. The plot of this murder mystery was different than I anticipated. Rather than centering on solving the crime, the core of this story is that of the suspects and how they are affected by the crime. The concept, while not unique, was indeed refreshing as it gave a personal touch to the plot. Another quality to this suspenseful tale was its presentation. The way the story unveils itself was thematically sound as some moments would leave out details, but this made sense as it captured the individual perspective on the matter. All of this led to a conclusion that, while not the greatest of all plot twists, was still satisfactory and worked with the movie’s sense of storytelling.
The cast of Knives Out was indeed a formidable ensemble. Each player had something to offer the movie whether it was a surprising direction or just a standout moment. While Daniel Craig served as the typical sleuth, the audience’s guide was Ana De Armas as Marta-which was a nice change of pace for a cast such as this one. Marta was a solid lead as her common decency was matched by her dire motivation. Detective Blanc played a more supporting role but that did take anything away from the character’s relevance as his sense of deduction was reminiscent to characters such as Columbo. When it came to the Thrombey family the group was certainly memorable. While certain characters such as Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), Walter Thrombey (Micheal Shannon) and Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis) stood out more than others, the family remained effective thanks to their dysfunctional nature which grounded each member of the household. Rounding things out was none other than Christopher Plummer as Harlan Thrombey. Harlan had more to offer the movie then I expected as his time on screen (though limited) showcased a lot of character from the murder victim. The significance in Harlan’s characters was a prime example of the characterization of this cast, and for that reason this band of suspects ended up being one of the best ensembles to grace the silver screen this year.
When it came to the film’s technical attributes Knives Out was simple but effective. The film’s cinematography was top-notch as the camera work created a distinct look that emphasized the mysterious nature behind the film. The music by Nathan Johnson seemed fitting to the movie’s concept; though it had some issues at leaving an impression. Yet perhaps the standout highlight for the movie was its tone and by extension its comedy. The film’s sense of humor was satirical in nature and created a vibe that this film was a parody of its respected genre.This by no means a detraction for the film. On the contrary the humor was witting, well balanced and it did not take anything from the mystery behind Knives Out.
While it may not change the formula of murder mysteries, Knives Out certainly does its best to break from the mold. If there was one thing that holds this satirical thriller back it would be its execution and how its expansive sense of direction could lose focus on its main goal. However, despite this, the movie exceeded in all areas by having its own spin on the likes of storytelling, characterization and tone. From its mystery to its presentation, Knives Out is a dynamic experience and a standout movie in its respected genre; which is more than enough for this Film Adventurer to tip his hat and place this mysterious movie among the best of 2019.