By Gustavo Buenrostro
Rian Johnson is somehow able subvert expectations while still paying homage to whodunit films in the humourous “Knives Out.”
“Knives Out” is about Harlan Thrombey, a successful mystery writer, who is found dead in his room on the night of his 85th birthday party.
His entire family and friends were invited and all become suspects once private investigator Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, starts looking into Harlan’s death.
Craig’s character is the crux of the humor in the film. His introduction in the film is funny as it is jarring.
He is also the first example of Johnson’s expectation subversion in the film. The rest of the cast is funny as well.
Chris Evans character of the spoiled Ransom Thrombey is probably the second funniest in the film as he is more mean-spirited than Blanc.
Some actors are interesting choices for certain characters. Michael Shannon is known for playing more intense characters, but in this film he plays Walter Thrombey, a timid person with a lot of repressed emotions.
The stand out in the cast is Ana de Armas, who plays Marta Cabrera, Harlan’s nurse as well as his friend.
She is perhaps the most sympathetic character in the film, but even she has moments where it’s unclear if she is playing the role or actually being herself.
The film makes it easy to root for certain characters, especially Marta because she has a lot of her background explained.
The film is a clear homage to other whodunit films such as “Clue” or “The Usual Suspects.”
What is interesting about the film is that half way through it, the audience finds out who was the person who committed the crime and the rest of it of the film turns into more of a suspense film with that character trying not to get caught.
With that change, the humor is still retained with some of the best jokes being from the latter half of the film.
The music works well in the film, not really drawing attention to much, but showing up in moments where it is needed like in the reveal of who the killer is.
One thing about the film is that it can be a bit cliched and cheesy at some parts, but it seems like that may have been intentional by Johnson, since many of the films that it is paying homage to are also very cheesy and cliched.
“Knives Out” is fun and has heart, which is surprising since it’s not really expected in films like this. It is definitely a good time at the theater and worth checking out.