When it comes to decoding the standards of a mystery story, celebrated British crime writer Agatha Christie is pretty much the standard all detective films and novels are measured against. After all, she was the one that made the genre popular worldwide amongst mainstream readers all over the world. But these days, mystery movies are more about violence and gore and less like the clever, clean mysteries of Christie’s creation, but there are always exceptions and one such rule breaker is director Rian Johnson’s “Knife Out”.
Of late, it seemed like Hollywood had forgotten the art of making a proper murder-mystery and was busy rebooting old films, eliciting silent screams of ‘No more’ from the viewers. But not Rian Johnson, who showed us the magic he is capable of in 2017 by breathing life into the “Star Wars” franchise with “The Last Jedi”. He brings the eccentric yet extravagant world of Christie to the modern era with a finesse that demands to be witnessed.
“Knives Out” starts off with the lavish birthday party of a wealthy and rich celebrated crime novelist, Harlan (Christopher Plummer) and his apparent suicide the next day. The sudden demise of Harlan brings his scattered family of greedy, money-hungry sons, daughters, and under the roof of the grand Gothic mansion. But as Harlan’s body was found with a slit throat and a bloody knife in his hand, it gives rise to suspicion, after all, who commits suicide by slitting his own throat? Now, given the barely disguised greed of his family members and countless secrets everyone has for hiding, everyone is a suspect.
So, to solve the mystery famous detective Benoit Blanc(Daniel Craig) is brought in to investigate whether it was truly a suicide and if not, then to identify the killer because all the suspects are omitting and twisting the truth in whatever manner that suits them. So, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing till the very end.
And it is not just the exceptional treatment the script has been given but also the stellar cast assembled by Johnson does their parts amazingly well. Whether it is Jamie Lee Curtis as Linda, a real-estate tycoon and Harlan’s daughter, Michael Shannon as Walt, who runs the family publishing business, or Don Johnson as Linda’s husband Richard, everyone is there to grab your attention the moment the camera pans to them. We also have Chris Evans as the arrogant playboy Ransom and Toni Colette as Joni- grandchildren of the departed Harlan.
The only saint amongst these dishonest and immoral characters is Harlan’s live-in nurse Marta and Ana de Armas plays the character with utmost sincerity. The biggest treat “Knives Out” brings us is Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc, an ode to the recurring Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s novels. The ease with which he manages to get into the skin of a flamboyant detective is proof that he is capable of much more than just being James Bond.
So, even though the modus operandi in “Knives Out” is definitely from a bygone era, the edgy writing and witty dialogues make it worthy of becoming a favourite in the current times. And the biggest credit for the same goes to director Rian Johnson, who picked up a done-and-dusted formula of a murder mystery but removed the old paint to decorate it with something more long-lasting. No remakes, no sticking to the rule book, but giving us a mystery that the viewer will have a gala time unravelling.