Scene It: ‘Knives Out’ an Original Mystery, But Not Quite As Great As I Was Led To Believe

Original concepts are few and far between in Hollywood these days, which is one of the reasons this movie stands out. But is it as good as everyone thinks?

“Knives Out” has a near-perfect 96 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 92 percent audience score. That is very rare — usually, critics love a movie and the audience hates it and vise versa.

I liked the movie, but it’s not a 96 or a 92 oI think this speaks to the state of movies and Hollywood in 2019. Everything is sequels or corporate-engineered, pre-packaged remakes, so any movie that stands out is automatically well-liked.

 

“Knives Out” is good and entertaining, but I wouldn’t put it on my Top 10 Movies of 2019 list like the American Film Institute did.  The movie revolves around a rich dysfunctional family that is dependent on the grandfather (Christopher Plummer), who is a rich successful mystery novel writer.

When he turns up dead, the entire family is a suspect. A private detective (Daniel Craig) is hired to solve the mystery along with the police. There are a few plot twist and director Rian Johnson does a solid job of keeping the story moving and interesting.

I love movies with great casts and this movie has a powerful line-up. I feel like this movie is its own genre. It is a comedy/murder mystery/social commentary piece. I can’t really recall a movie quite like this one. Another reason why so many critics took a shine to this original concept.

What I liked about the movie (MILD SPOILER ALERT):

— The cast is just ridiculous! 007 himself, Craig, as the detective with a southern French accent. Chris Evans (Captain America) as the jerk spoiled grandson was excellent. Good for him to play a jerk and step out of the good guy role. Plummer (“All the Money in the World”) has made a career as the rich old white guy.

Michael Shannon (General Zod) as the young clingy son is great in everything! Ana De Armas (“Blade Runner 2049”) as the nurse. Remember her name; she will be a big star.

The movie has Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stansfield (another star in the making) and the great Jamie Lee Curtis.

— The movie was clever in that it revealed the killer midway through, but still there was enough storyline and plot twists to keep the movie interesting.

— There were some actually laugh out loud moments in the movie. Although it was murder mystery it did not take itself too seriously. There was also social commentary. In one scene the family (who are all rich and privilege) start arguing about immigrants and poor people don’t want to earn their way into America, which is funny because all of them live of the fame and fortune of the grandfather. The other comedy is how all the family members are so self-absorbed and so easily fooled and deceived.

What I did not like about the movie:

— When you have a lot of stars in one movie, it’s hard to get screen time for everyone, but I felt like the movie was too centered around the nurse and the detective. The movie could have used a few more scenes of the dysfunctional family. Why have all these great actors if you are not going to use them?

— The movie was filled with clichés. The quirky detective, the bumbling cops, the rich old man, secret compartments in the mansion … all straight out of the Agatha Christie Novel Writing 101 class.

Best line in the movie:

Benoit Blanc (Craig): This is a twisted web, and we are not finished untangling it, not yet.

Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans): What is this, CSI: KFC?

Academy Award for the Coolest Chair in a movie goes to “Knives Out”! There is a chair made up of knives that all face towards the center where the person’s head would rest. Pretty cool prop!

Grading on a Murder Mystery movie scale with “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) being a zero (tired remake), and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (2009, the original from Sweden with Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander) being a 10, I would give “Knives Out” a 7.5, which is about a “Gone Girl” (2014).

 

Val Davila
Val Davila is a lifelong Merrimack Valley resident and one of the founders of the Davila & DeFusco Insurance Agency in Methuen. Val has been our pop culture guru since the beginnings of Loop Weekly and is a fan of all things movies and TV.