FOUR STARS Sudden death pits mother against son, brother against sister, hell, everyone against everyone!
Daniel Craig, Chris Evans
COMEDY DRAMA #KNIVESOUT
The talent that is Rian Johnson is behind some of the more interesting and challenging films in recent years: films like the time-warping detective yarn LOOPER, the engaging high-school noir of BRICK and the wonderfully off-kilter euro-heist of THE BROTHERS BLOOM. For good measure he even did a lap of the galaxy for Star Wars in THE LAST JEDI. So when you hear he’s behind a star-studded whodunnit, you take notice.
And stars there are aplenty; Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee-Curtis, Toni Collete, Daniel Craig, Michael Shannon and Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans all get to play against type while chewing so much scenery they each had an orthodontist on standby (un-true story). With one giant wink at the camera, it’s on for young and old.
Starting with old, it’s Grandpa’s 85th birthday. The extraordinarily wealthy man is admired by all his family. Loved. Adored. OK, he’s not. Off record they’re all waiting for the codger to die so they can cash in his millions when, happy days, he is unexpectedly found dead in his bedroom. Suicide say the police, but a private eye who’s been anonymously paid to investigate the case is not so sure. Everyone has a motive he says. And so the fun begins.
With more twists and turns than the Tom Moreland interchange (check it out), Johnson creates a devilishly clever film that takes the very best of the genre without turning it into a parody of itself. Instead he uses it as a springboard from which to fire nuggets of social commentary, notably the peril of self indulgence and the value of truth. He neatly wraps it up in a magic trick of a film - one where we focus so much on the right hadn’t we frequently miss what the left is doing. Yet even if we do catch on and work out what’s happening, there’s still terrific fun to be had in watching it all unfold. Overly cerebral perhaps, but fun nonetheless.
KNIVES OUT can be a dizzying experience - also part of the fun - yet being embraced by this frankly brainy film is where the thrill resides. Johnson doesn’t lecture, nor does he overwhelm with fanboy indulgence (listening, Mr Tarantino?). For all the fizzing and popping, at the heart of this retro-flavoured whodunnit is a clever, well considered and finely tuned story. And that is the icing on this delightfully wicked cake.