Knives Out is a brilliant movie about horrible people. With a stellar cast including Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Don Johnson and Christopher Plummer, Rian Johnson weaves a beautifully intricate whodunnit mystery with a twist, and the twist is that the audience already knows who did it! Or do they? Daniel Craig’s smooth, sly Southern investigator Benoit Blanc smells a rat and he’s going to find out what REALLY happened.
The story opens with family patriarch Harlan Thrombey being found dead, his throat slit in quite spectacular fashion, the morning after his 85th birthday party. As the detectives begin their investigation it quickly becomes obvious that this family, who initially seem kind and caring, are in fact a bunch of spoiled, narcisstic ne’er-do-wells, each with their own potential motive to wish mischief on not just Harlan but on each other. In the midst of this clash of egos and personalities arrives Benoit Blanc, hired by an anonymous client to investigate Harlan’s passing.
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To do this he enlists the assistance of Harlan’s carer, nurse Marta Cabrera, as she was the one closest to Harlan and can give him a true insight into the motives of the family as she is physically incapable of lying. She suffers from the oddest condition that she vomits anytime she attempts to tell a lie. It’s perhaps just as well she never considered a career in politics but it does make her a reliable barometer of the truth. But as the film progresses, we the audience begin to discover that, as Benoit himself says “Physical evidence can tell a clear story with a forked tongue” and even the truth can be misleading.
Knives Out starts a little slowly, at least for my personal tastes, but stick with it! At a runtime of just over two hours this is not a film in a hurry to show its hand, but persevering audiences will be rewarded with a streak of black comedy, brilliant performances and twists and turns that will likely keep even the most seasoned informative murder porn watcher guessing to the very end.
Despite having a somewhat limited role, given that the movie starts with his death, the presence of Christopher Plummer can still be felt looming large in every scene, and he does well with the time he has. His relationship with Ana De Armas’ Marta is warm and believable. Marta is a believable and sympathetic protagonist, a minnow in the sea of sharks that is the Thrombey family, trying hard to do the right thing. Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc is a delight to watch, all Southern charm and clever turns of phrase. A little bit Columbo, a little bit Poirot. I have no idea if his accent is even close to authentic, but it’s a treat to listen to.
The soundtrack by Nathan Johnson, who has scored all of Rian Johnson’s films with the somewhat expected exception of Star Wars, is a mostly orchestral number. It works well within the confines of the film but on its own it is somewhat forgettable unless you happen to particularly enjoy this kind of music, heavy on the strings and piano for the most part. Stick to streaming if you really have a desire to listen to it.
I’m delighted to be able to say that this physical Blu-ray release is a solid one. Picture and sound are top notch, with the English language version being available in shiny new Dolby Atmos for those who have systems that can take full advantage of it. There’s a solid selection of special features on offer which includes:
– Commentary track with Director Rian Johnson, Director of Photography Steve Yedlin, and actor Noah Segan
– Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Rian Johnson
– Making a Murder – A set of featurettes that get into all sorts of aspects of the production
– Director and Cast Q & A
– Meet the Thrombeys Viral Ads (A fun little extra, each clocking in at around 30 seconds long, giving us a quick little look into what the characters do outside of the film)
All in all this is a great physical release of a superb mystery movie, well presented and well packaged with the extras in-depth enough to give a real flavour of the production. It’s good to see that some companies still remember how to do a proper Blu-ray release with the extras that the fans want to see.
Knives Out is released on Blu-ray on 30th March.