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Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
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Jack Bottomley
Media Correspondent
9:00 PM 3rd January 2020

Review: Knives Out

After the controversial (but brilliant) Star Wars instalment Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson has certainly faced his fair share of online rage but it has thankfully done little to dampen his creative fires.

And after giving Star Wars formulas a shake up, the Looper and Brick director continues his winning ways with Knives Out, a whodunnit bobby-dazzler reliant on confident audiences thinking they're one step ahead of the game, before revealing they're playing a different one entirely.

The plot sees a family rife with turmoil and confrontation hit by a tragedy as the patriarch Harlan Thrombey (an excellent Christopher Plummer) suddenly dies and his last will and testament catches the entire family off guard. However, ace detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has been mysteriously hired to investigate this untimely passing and naturally he comes to expect foul play is involved.

Knives Out is of course indebted to Agatha Christie, aesthetically (from the sophisticated set design to Nathan Johnson’s playful score) reflects a cinematic Cluedo game and unapologetically embraces whodunnit traditions but is so much more than just an affectionate homage.

As the story begins you are immediately sucked in by the plot but as it progresses, Johnson’s wicked script relies on your familiarity with this genre and enjoys subverting and playfully toying with expectations numerous times over.

Rivetingly entertaining on every level, this is a film that rewards the observational audience eye and sets up narrative points well in advance (often in a very understated fashion), delivering on its subtle hints far down the line in the most impactful and unexpected of ways.

Johnson's wicked wit punctures the screen at every turn, with some brilliant (and hilarious) dialogue and a stream of memorable one-liners that delight in showing people's bitingly carnivorous (and social media driven) nature and how we as a society can overcome it. In fact this is very much an optimistic movie (maybe even spurred on by Johnson’s own recent experiences with fandoms) about human nature and the value of being honest and pure in an increasingly self absorbed world.

The delicious and impressive ensemble roster shines with Daniel Craig’s heavy southern American accented (think Foghorn Leghorn meets Colonel Sanders) eccentric detective extraordinaire Benoit Blanc being a joy (and ripe for future film outings) and Ana de Armas’ Marta making the film her own with a character who is engaging because of her simplicity, honesty and humanity.

Meanwhile a flurry of outstanding support arrives from the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, a particularly excellent Chris Evans and Michael Shannon. Alongside a delightful casting pick n’ mix of newcomers like IT’s Jaeden Martell and legends like Frank Oz, all of whom are perfectly shuffled into this deck of casting cards.

To delve into Knives Out too much would risk spoiling its mystery but let me tell you dear readers, this is a twisting turning comic-tinged murder thriller that celebrates the classic heritage of the whodunnit whilst revelling in the absurd toxicity of our modern world and society.

Rian Johnson’s film is one of the most entertaining watches of the last year and a film that urges you to pay attention in more ways than one. Absolute genius!

12A
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette
Release Date: Out Now