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Knives Out Review

After dividing audiences with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson is out with a new wholly original film Knives Out. For his follow up to the mega popular space franchise, Johnson gathered a hugely talented ensemble cast for a love letter to the whodunnit murder mystery. Can this film win back those who had a sour taste left in their mouths from The Last Jedi?

Wealthy patriarch Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his home one morning by one of his servants in an apparent suicide. The case seems open and shut until someone mysteriously hires famous detective Benoit Blanc to investigate the death more closely. Once he's on the case he discovers that nearly everyone in the family had a positive motive and things aren't what they seem.

Unsurprisingly, the best asset Johnson has here is his stellar cast. But unfortunately midway through some of them kind of fall to the wayside as the film focuses more and more on the character of Thrombey's nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas, who does a lot of heavy lifting here and is excellent.) She's excellent, but it leaves great character actors like Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Michael Shannon with little to do for much of the film.

MILD VAGUE SPOILERS: In somewhat of a twist, or rather subverted expectation as Johnson would love to say, they reveal things quite early on which I had some mixed feelings about. On the one hand it shook things up and made the movie less of a mystery and more of a survival. But it did also take away some of the intrigue and made some things a little predictable, even though the goal was to make it unpredictable.

On its surface, Knives Out is an entertaining and enjoyable ode to the stories of Agatha Christie. And on that level, I did find myself enjoying it. However, when I looked a bit more closely beneath the layers of what Johnson was getting at the film certainly becomes a whole lot more self righteous. In interviews Johnson stated that he wrote this film as a response to the haters of The Last Jedi and when you look at the film with Marta as a place holder for Johnson himself, and the family representing the general views of the internet as a whole, it's hard to unsee and hard not to roll your eyes at.

Bottom line: if you shut off your brain and don't look at the deeper metaphor underneath, Knives Out is a harmless fun whodunnit, if not a little predictable. But when you look a little closer it seems more like a pretentious exercise from a director who can't really handle criticism. RATING: 7/10

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