- Knives Out
- Written and directed by Rian Johnson
- Starring Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas and Chris Evans
- Classification PG
- 130 minutes
By the power vested in me as a film critic with absolutely zero legal jurisdiction, I hereby sentence Daniel Craig to a lifetime of performing solely with a drawling southern accent. This might seem like an unfit punishment for the wonderful versatility of a performer such as Craig, but the decision serves the greater good of society. There are few pleasures as great as watching the British actor twist his tongue to sound like he’s delivering monologues dripped in molasses. The linguistic tact worked wonderfully in Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky in 2017, and it is just as successful in Knives Out, director Rian Johnson’s backward meta spin on the whodunit.
Here, the erstwhile 007 – who has made no secret of his distaste for the contractual obligations required by Her Majesty’s Secret Service – gets to have great fun away from MI6 as a Kentucky-fried Poirot facsimile named Benoit Blanc. Hired by an anonymous client to investigate the suicide (or was it?) of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), Blanc finds his case complicated by the fact that the dead man (or is he?) was a fabulously wealthy author who specialized in writing murder mysteries.
What follows is loads of morbid pleasure, as Johnson (who cemented his whodunit bona fides with his 2005 debut, Brick) gets to unleash an extraordinarily bouncy exercise in upended expectations. This is a dizzy, zippy and surprisingly politically astute murder-mystery comedy that hits all its beats with flair, before turning around and knifing conventional thinking in the back.
Craig gets the best support network an actor has ever received since ... well, maybe Logan Lucky. The film’s killer (or are they?) cast includes Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Ana de Armas, LaKeith Stanfield and Don Johnson (who, between this, Dragged Across Concrete and HBO’s Watchmen, is having a banner year; cue the Miami Vice theme). But this is mostly Craig’s case to close, and the actor proves again that is he one of our most undervalued performers, in or out of a tuxedo (or is he? No, he is).
Knives Out opens Nov. 27
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