REVIEW: Knives Out
After a lackluster summer where there were far more misses than hits, audiences were hungry for something fresh, something different. Lionsgate met that need with the surprise hit, Knives Out, which is out now on disc.
It’s a contemporary take on the kind of murder mysteries Agatha Christie made a career out of and like the film adaptations of her works, this comes with a stellar cast. Rian Johnson, who wrote and directed the feature, serves up an incredibly enjoyable tale, letting familiar performers work outside their familiar character types.
We have world-famous author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) and his immediate family gathering for an 80th birthday party, but by midnight, he’s dead with all four children suspects in the crime.
Lieutenant Elliott (Lakeith Stanfield) and a trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), perhaps the weakest written characters in the film, have been taking statements and investigating but seem to be getting nowhere. Sitting quietly in the shadows, observing is Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), a private investigator mysteriously hired to ferret out the real killer.
Could it be Harlan’s daughter Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), or her husband Richard (Don Johnson) or even Richard’s ne’er-do-well son Hugh Ransom (Chris Evans)? Maybe it was Harlan’s son Walt (Michael Shannon) or his wife Donna (Riki Lindhome), or Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette), the widow of Harlan’s deceased son Neil. Or we could skip a generation and cast a jaundiced eye at Walt and Donna’s alt-right son Jacob (Jaeden Martell), Joni’s daughter Meg (Katherine Langford), or even Harlan’s elderly mother Wanetta (K Callan).
Helping fill in some of the gaps while hiding secrets of her own is Harlan’s nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), who the family treated as one of their own until their true selves were teased out through Blanc’s questioning.
We get plenty of flashbacks until the truth is revealed to the audience and then the fun begins with the weakest car chase of all time, projectile vomiting, and plenty of scenery-chewing. A great time can be had with this delight of a film.
Johnson clearly had fun crafting this and his cast gave it their all, turning de Armas, next seen with Craig in No Time to Die, into the current It Girl. The box office success h meant work already has begun on a new Blanc mystery to solve.
The film is out on a variety of formats including the Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD combo. The AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1 works fine and only the most discerning may quibble at some of the color changes. Really, it looks fine and the Dolby Atmos audio track is crisp and clear.
I wish the special features were a little more special but they’re okay. We have In Theater Commentary with Rian Johnson, Deleted Scenes (4:57) complete with optional commentary from Johnson; Making a Murder (1:54:07), a fine behind-the-scenes look; Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder (6:17); Director and Cast Q & A (42:09) derived from a 2019 screening in Westwood, California; Marketing Gallery, three Trailers, viral ads for Thrombey Real Estate (00:34), Blood Like Wine Publishing (00:56), and Flam (00:34); and Ode to the Murder Mystery (1:43).