★★★★ ½ (out of five stars)
Knives Out is one of the best murder mystery movies I've ever seen, certainly better than Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express from a couple of years ago (which I also enjoyed).
Directed, written, and produced by Rian Johnson (Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi), Knives Out features compelling characters and a great plot.
The eighty-five-year-old patriarch of a rich, spoiled family is dead. It looks like a suicide—and yet, renowned private detective Benoit Blanc believes there are pieces that don't fit.
From the first frames, the movie is gripping and a whole lot of fun. I loved the way the initial interviews were shown. Showing a main character who is physically unable to lie is a fantastic twist on the genre.
Ana De Armas is terrific as Marta, the patriarch's nurse, and is always believable. Daniel Craig has the mannerisms of the sleuth down, and you can see the gears turning in his head as he analyzes all the information in front of him. (I just wish his Cajun accent had been a little more on point—though maybe it's just because I'm so used to seeing him as James Bond.) Chris Evans, too, is solid as the arrogant grandson. Most of the other roles filled with terrific (often former A-list) actors who chew up their parts (which amount to expanded cameos—Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, and Riki Lindhome (of Garfunkel & Oates fame).
I really enjoyed the reveal of the crime: so often, murder mysteries have convoluted solutions, but this one was so breathtakingly simple I was hitting myself over the head wondering why I hadn't seen it myself—which, of course, is the hallmark of a great murder mystery.
If you're a fan of Fenway Stevenson (or of Agatha Christie or any of the recent Sherlock shows), you'll find Knives Out to be captivating and delightful.