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Review: Knives Out – “Not as clever as it thinks it is”

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Rian Johnson (Brick) cleansed his post-Star Wars: The Last Jedi palette writing and directing Knives Out which stars Daniel Craig (Skyfall), Ana de Armas (Bladerunner 2049), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Don Johnson (Django Unchained) and Chris Evans (Avengers: Endgame).

Disclaimer: It’s hard to honestly review this one without spoilers. But don’t fret. I’m not a monster and would obviously never name the killer.

Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is an elderly, famous and wealthy thriller writer. His family and their various partners and children all come to his massive secluded estate for his birthday party and — after a number of argumentative incidents with various relatives — Harlan goes to bed.

The next day he is found dead. An apparent suicide. But superstar private detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) is not convinced and with the aid of a police lieutenant (Stanfield) and Harlan’s friend and carer, Marta (de Armas), he pursues a murder enquiry with every mean member of the massive money-grubbing family a suspect.

An Agatha Christie-style whodunnit with a rich backstabbing family isolated in a big country mansion under suspicion of homicide before a big drawing-room reveal of the killer should make for a wonderful Winter-on-the-way murder mystery…

Disappointingly, it mostly doesn’t work as the proposed whodunnit because for the majority of its runtime Knives Out is more Columbo than Christie. There’s no work to do for your little grey cells as you’re told the who and how almost straight away. As well as killing any fun and suspense, it makes the film a bit of a pointless plod until a not-really-a-twist turns things around – but also makes the new murderer’s identity immediately obvious. 

With a massive and amazing cast all playing wonderfully horrid money-hungry bastards it is a huge shame and a massive waste to not spend more time suspecting them and putting them under the magnifying glass. Toni Collette is a perfect Paltrow-Goop wanker, JLC is great as the entitled harridan, and Don Johnson as her desperate and dodgy husband, but Lakeith Stanfield — incredible in the excellent Sorry To Bother You — is given nothing to do.

Craig is clearly having fun with his accent and there’s a bit that’s nearly a car chase that threatens to raise the pulse, but Knives Out isn’t as clever as it thinks it is or as fun as you suspect it may have been to make.

Those looking to give their Poirot-esque little grey cells a work out would be better off putting ITV3 on. 

Knives Out is released in the UK on the 27th of November.

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