With an all-star cast (Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and more), KNIVES OUT (2019, streaming on Amazon Prime) is a clever whodunnit that innovatively pivots from a mystery to a crime drama back to a mystery, while playing and subverting the usual tropes of the genre.
The film opens with the murder of the family patriarch, portrayed as the Stephen King of mystery fiction, after his 85th birthday party in his old country mansion. Enter Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who finds the members of the family conniving and each having a motive to kill the old man. The only pure soul in the lot (set up as a sort of devious Royal Tennenbaums) is the patriarch’s nurse (Ana de Arma), who cannot lie without becoming ill and may be the key to solving the mystery.
The acting is of course terrific, particularly Plummer, Collette, and Curtis, who bring a lot to their small parts, and Blanc nicely refreshes the traditional role of the whodunnit detective. While it felt a little too long for me (not surprising, as I’m not a huge fan of the mystery genre), it’s very clever and well done, and the pieces all come together at the end in a very satisfying way.
There’s a sequel in the works, which was apparently greenlit in February 2020, so we’ll be seeing another Benoit Blanc mystery soon, likely with Craig reprising his role.