Knives Out (2019) Review

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What has now become my favorite movie of 2019 and one of the best movies to be released last year. The worst thing about this movie is all my fault, and that’s that I waited this long to finally get around to watching it. I have been a huge Rian Johnson fan since his first film Brick, but I found that movie after watching Looper. From that point on, I ended up being excited for everything he was making and even was a strong advocate for him when he was announced for Star Wars. I know that the film is divisive and that I may be bias for my love of his movies, but anyone who has seen what he can do it, can’t knock the quality of his movies like them or not. I knew that the reviews for this film were fantastic and I had been incredibly excited to see it after seeing the first trailer, but with how life is sometimes, I didn’t get to watch it until now. Surprisingly, there have been a lot of critically acclaimed films this year that I watched and ended up not liking at all, so I was a little worried about feeling the same towards this movie, so here’s hoping that I was wrong to feel that way.

After the controversy and toxicity in the fan base of Star Wars after his film The Last Jedi, Johnson seemed to put it all behind him and go back to his roots of telling a compelling story with great and unique characters. Knives Out does not disappoint as it brings us a classic whodunnit story about a family being investigated for the death of their father/grandfather. It’s a classic mystery that feels right from the days of Clue and various other old mystery novels. It’s a refreshing attempt at bringing a revitalized type of story to a modern time. I think one of the best parts about how Johnson went about writing this movie was that he really embraced the old classic style while also mixing it with modern day culture in an incredibly relatable way. The most obvious example of this is with the unique characters that all have their own unique personalities and looks, many of them are tied right into the old classic stereotype versions of characters in old mystery novels, but we also get some new refreshing and relatable characters. One of them is the grandson who is labeled as an alt-right internet troll who stays to himself and on his phone for the majority of the movie. The other is the granddaughter who is a built older, but is kind of your younger generation that feels entitled and as an added bonus she likes to vape.

I could take the time getting into every one of the characters and how interesting they are but for the most part I’m just going to break it down to the fact that all of the actors in this film give great performances. They all absolutely nail their roles and do enough to keep them all different from each other, and on top of that, it actually looks like they’re all having a great time. There are a few specific characters that I’d like to point out, The first being Ransom (Chris Evans). The cool thing about the Marvel movies is that it really takes up a lot of time for many of these actors to the point that we don’t get to see them do much else, so it’s always a delight to see a new smaller movie that they are a part of. In this case, Evans plays a character completely different than his Captain America role and it’s an absolute delight to see him show off his acting chops and to be the ass hole character that he is.

The next character I would like to point out is Marta (Ana De Armas) who is at the very center of this whole story. Without giving away spoilers, she is one of the most important characters in the story and helps guide as through the events alongside Blanc. She gives an innocent and fantastic performance that really does highlight her skills as an actress. On another note, she has quietly started to put together a solid resume with some bigger films coming down the pipeline for her. The other big standout is of course the man himself Daniel Craig who plays the private investigator Benoit Blanc. The biggest thing I noticed about him playing this character is not only the accent change which is an exciting and refreshing new accent than what we are used to. The closest role I’ve seen of his to the accent he pulls off in this movie is his role in Logan Lucky. He is truly the tour guide as the events and twists reveal themselves before us and he seems to be having the most fun of everyone else. Craig is a guy that I very rarely get to see in many other movies, and there’s been much talk about his disdain for wanting to play James Bond any longer and how he doesn’t seem like he’s enjoying doing it. Well in this film, it really highlights how great of an actor he is outside the role and what he’s capable of doing, while also showing that he really nails his job when he’s having fun.

Outside of the actors, the biggest element is the story and how it was written and executed. My biggest worry about a whodunnit mystery is that there would be nothing that would make it unique from any other kind of mystery. Well I can certainly say that it doesn’t give you a mystery that on the surface is any different than a typical mystery, however it’s the execution of how to tell the mystery that really separates itself from every other one. This comes not only from the writing, but also the directing by Johnson who did both. He crafted a story where he knows exactly when to release certain information and when to revel a new twist or unraveling at just the right time. This not only comes down to the directing, but also the editing. Rather than spend the time to just sit on each character one at a time to hear their versions of what happened which would have been less engaging and would likely feel slower, it instead is handled in such a way that we jump between each character’s stories as the information is being revealed. It’s an absolutely perfect handling of all aspects in film. And it’s only more satisfying with every moment where you think you know where the story is going, it twists and turns you in another direction to give you something else. The final moments of the film with the full reveal of the events and the shocking and surprisingly funny ending does nothing but place the perfect cherry on top of a beautiful bowl of ice cream. Or in this case, a perfectly made doughnut. (You will only understand this reference if you’ve seen the movie)

Rian Johnson has recently become a mainstream name among many fans of movies and he has also brought a lot of controversy with his directing and writing style that he brought to the Star Wars universe. What I like though about this film, is that he doesn’t go away from his style or what he’s always brought to his movies. He also in a way makes a statement to all fans of how good he really is doing what he knows how to do for all who doubted him. With this movie, he give what I believe to be his best work yet as a director and easily one of the best movies of 2019. It’s an absolute masterclass in filmmaking with his ability to handle every aspect of filming to craft an engaging and fun movie to watch. I wish I had waited to do my favorite of the decade list because this could have easily made the list. I think it has a great shot of being nominated for some major awards and I would definitely recommend anybody to watch this movie. It’s an absolute blast that will keep you on your toes the whole time.

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