KNIVES OUT Film Review

The Cast of KNIVES OUT

Rian Johnson delivers a gem of a film with his spirited and inventive homage to the ‘whodunnit’ genre with his latest feature KNIVES OUT

4 out of 5 stars

Taking a break between filming STAR WARS sequels, writer-director Rian Johnson pulls out a gem of a film with his spirited and inventive homage to the ‘whodunnit’ genre, KNIVES OUT.

When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely and gruesome death.

As you can guess from the synopsis above, KNIVES OUT is an eventful, hilarious and diabolically madcap whodunnit. Recalling films like MURDER BY DEATH and CLUE, Johnson’s inventive screenplay walks a fine line between homage and self-parody, its sharp-edged wit and quick-fire pace leaving you guessing – and laughing – from beginning to end.


As a self-confessed fan of the genre, Johnson knows the rules of the game, providing the perfect setting for this murder mystery, almost all of the action taking place in a rambling old house in the countryside, full of secret panels, back hallways and overt references to the genre. This setup creates the opportunity for some lip-smacking character work from its crackerjack cast.

Daniel Craig steals the show as the Poirot-inspired detective, Benoit Blanc, his excitement palatable as he begins to rapidly piece the puzzle together. The rich supporting cast, which includes Chris Evans as playboy grandson Ransom, Jamie Lee Curtis as Harlan’s daughter Linda, Toni Collette as Harlan’s daughter-in-law, Don Johnson as Linda’s smug philandering husband and Michael Shannon as Harlan’s son Walt, also deliver some stellar performances.

Chris Evans in Knives Out (2019)

Of course, with so many players, not all of the characters are as well-defined as they could be but this doesn’t hamper the enjoyment of the film. There’s also no shortage of political commentary in this modern whodunnit either, Johnson using Ana de Armas’ character as warm nurse Marta – whose performance is really the heart of this film – as an avenue to incorporate some biting social commentary into the piece.

With its well-oiled plot mechanics, guileful twists and turns and stellar cast performances, there’s much to love about KNIVES OUT, Johnson proving that, despite its bad reputation, there is still plenty of life left in this genre to deliver one of this years’ best and most entertaining movies.

KNIVES OUT is released in UK cinemas from 27 November 2019.