Take a Stab at Seeing Knives Out

What has 15 actors, three settings, one writer, an amazing plot, and knives out, ready to rumble with Avengers: Endgame and Joker? It’s one of the movies of the year: Knives Out! Starring Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Katherine Langford and Jamie Lee Curtis (just to name a few,) this star-studded cast leads the whodunnit murder mystery to the front of the box office this holiday season. After the head of the Thrombey-Drysdale family, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) mysteriously dies, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) suggests foul play from one of Thrombey’s very own family members. With motives from money laundering to tuition to Harlan’s recently changed will, Detective Blanc unravels the real story piece by piece, slowly but surely ruling out each family member until his final cognition at the very end of the film. It is full of twists, turns and unique characters that all drive the plot from its first minute to its last.
Rian Johnson, still under fire for his direction of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, certainly redeems himself with his writing and directing of Knives Out. His script has cutting edge humor and, with the exception of one or two characters, does not try too hard to be comical. The comedy (much like the movie’s entirety in general) is not too forced and flows nicely, especially with the cast’s chemistry together. The acting as a whole was phenomenal, the way they work together as an ensemble to portray a dysfunctional and crazy family delivered through and through. The chemistry as a whole allows the audience to believe this family is, in fact, a family, seeing as they can be at ease with each other, then become hostile and betray one another in a matter of seconds, making it all the more relatable to the average audience member. Johnson’s directing also ties the movie together in a way that seems different from other directors. The way he goes from frame to frame and scene to scene flows very nicely and adds to the already amazing acting. Johnson’s script is also full of twists and turns until the last moments of the film, even though it is revealed how Harlan died and who caused it. Just when you think the story is all figured out, there is another knot found to be undone. The biggest knot in the tangle, however, is Chris Evans. He steals the entire movie when he finally shows, and his character development (and acting overall) makes him (along with Ana de Armas’ Marta) the scene-stealer and ultimate favorite.
Besides the amazing components, which outweigh the cons of this film without a doubt, there are some attributes that are not so pleasing to experience. To start, the directing was amazing, but some scenes and their dialogue seemed to move slow and could have been reduced, many of these scenes including Daniel Craig’s character. Speaking of Craig, his accent throughout got to be annoying, distracting and almost as if it was input on purpose to be made fun of. Craig is an English actor, but his accent sounded forced and obnoxiously overdone for the majority of the time he was on screen. While Craig was on screen, that took away from Evans’ screentime, as well. His character, Ransom Drysdale, only shows up and makes his mark well into the movie. Supposing his plot makes sense, however, Chris Evans was drastically underused and some of the slower-moving scenes could have been replaced with something more exciting, Evans’ character being one of many possibilities.
Each character is unique and has a motive for wanting to kill Thrombey, however all of the actors’ characters felt too stereotypical with the way they fit into the family. Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Martell) is the son of Walt and Donna Thrombey (Michael Shannon and Riki Lindhome,) with what is probably the fewest scenes of any character. He is the usual teenager in terms of how the media portrays them; always on his phone, never social and does not talk to the family. This family may be a lot to handle, but Martell was moved to the end of the list in terms of characters. He helps the plot the tiniest bit, however, but it ends up being a dead end. Meg Thrombey (Katherine Langford,) the daughter of Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) and one of Harlan’s unnamed deceased son’s, is an older teenager who, again, is exactly how the media portrays them; she smokes, juuls, does weed and goes to college, her entire character is ultimately unnecessary except for one phone call (that ends up going nowhere.) This phone call was between Meg and Harlan’s caretaker, Marta Cabrerra (Ana de Armas,) who we are lead to believe caused Harlan’s death. While de Armas gave a memorable performance, Marta was almost too innocent; taking care of an old man, providing for her family who are about poor and giving everyone around her second and third chances time and time again. Though her innocence was proven, it does seem a bit overdone (with Johnson adding in the fact that lying makes her vomit. It does come in handy, but that is almost pushing it.) Jamie Lee Curtis’ Linda Drysdale tries to be the mediator of the family, but it was obvious that she was favored by Harlan over Walt and his other deceased son. Because she was favored by her father so much, she becomes selfish, especially after the reading of Harlan’s will, and it seems as if she is a completely different character than when she was first introduced. This is also true for her husband, Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson.) His motives are strategically revealed as more and more of the family are being singled out, and it seems like he is not sorry for his affairs with other women. This makes it less believable that he actually loves Linda, seeing as he does not outwardly show remorse, yet half-heartedly apologizes. Johnson’s performance was mediocre, but he was an important character to have. As for Linda’s brother, Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon,) he is the typical showboat. He tells his family that he owns his family’s business with his dad and that he is successful, but everyone knows and comes to find out that he is a “failure” and was even fired by Harlan himself. To save face in front of his biggest critics, he puts on a show that he is the best, but deep down knows that he is not going anywhere. Walt’s wife, Donna (Riki Lindhome) seems to have more of a minor role. Her performance was forgettable and she was not all that important, either. Her impression was not as big as Toni Collette’s Joni Thrombey, who may be the most stereotypical of them all. She is annoying, loud, tries too hard to be funny and always has to put in her two cents, despite not being a direct member of the family. Watching her character was like walking on eggshells: uncomfortable and irritating. It seems as if Joni was made to be unliked, and she was, but not just by the family. As for Chris Evans’ Ransom, the son of Linda and Richard, he was also a big stereotype: the sarcastic loudmouth who only shows up to two family events a year before disappearing, or when money is involved. Evans does a fantastic job at getting the rest of the family riled up and covering his crimes well, all while maintaining his composure. For an actor who is known for playing a goody-two-shoes superhero, it was refreshing to see Evans let his talent show in a different light. The same goes for Edi Patterson, who plays Fran, the maid. For having a minor role, she is quite a memorable force and refuses to be forgotten. LaKeith Stanfield, who plays Lieutenant Elliott, is also more of a minor character who leaves an impression, resembling a real police officer in his mannerisms and attitude throughout.
Yes, there are some bones to pick with Knives Out, but it is a fun film with a great plot. Every character brings something to the film that makes them unique, yet fit together like the family the actors were playing.