Knives Out is every bit as razor-sharp as it sounds, and just as brilliant, too. It’s a mystery that’s as slick, stylish, and humorous as anything Wes Anderson’s done, and a pure delightful ride from start to finish.
It’s a whodunit by any other name, but one whose central mystery (or so it seems, but I won’t spoil) is solved within the very first half. What anchors the rest of the film is a well thought-out firecracker-in-a-bottle mystery that’s also a comedy and drama, and yes, part-time snide commentary on 2019 America.
It’s also as classic as any murder mystery goes — the great Gothic house that serves as the mystery’s setting, the wealthy yet dysfunctional family, and the brilliant detective are all present, and the ensemble cast of characters so delightfully portrayed, that none of them ever miss a beat. They are, however, all updated to characters modern society would recognise, from the Valley Girl-drawled lifestyle guru played by Toni Collette, to Jamie Lee Curtis’ rage-simmering Linda. Once or twice each teeters right on the edge of a caricature, but ultimately are portrayed with just the right of humor as well as sympathy, that they never quite tip over.
In all, as director Rian Johnson’s tribute to the genre, it would be easy to fall into the trap of over-the-top smugness and style — that is, to simply bring in a star-studded cast and over-glorify a mediocre mystery plot with too much shine and flourish, but ultimately, Johnson’s pure love and dedication for the film shines through, and he delivers a murder mystery that’s indeed as mysterious as it gets, and with more than a few tricks up its sleeve — and plenty of laughs to spare.