Movie Review: Knives Out (2019)

Synopsis: When renown mystery writer Harlan Thrombey is found dead following his 85th birthday party, it is initially ruled a suicide. However, the investigation is re-opened when a well-known private investigator, Benoit Blanc, is anonymously hired to consult on the case. Blanc immediately uncovers multiple suspects withing Thrombey's eccentric family. However, things take an even more dramatic turn when the mystery writer's nurse, Marta Cabrera, is named Thrombey's sole heir.

Review: I received this movie on DVD from Netflix yesterday and, since there wasn't anything good on TV, decided to watch it with my wife yesterday evening.

Normally, my wife and I usually wind up sharing the same view of the movies we watch, we either both like them or we both hate them. However, this happened to be one of those rare films where we disagreed. She didn't care for it. I, on the other hand, wound up enjoying it.

I've always been a big fan of good murder mysteries and I would classify this as one of those. I think the thing I really enjoyed was how the film set up a narrative that seemed to completely explain Thrombey's death and eventually centered the narrative around his "killer," only to eventually cast doubt about what looked to be the obvious solution. Being a big fan of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, I kind of suspected that would wind up being the case. But, the movie did a great job of keeping the real story about Thrombey's death a secret until the big reveal. I'm usually able to finger the killer even before the motive is revealed. This movie, however, had me throwing out random guesses that turned out to be mostly wrong.

One complaint I do have about this movie is I feel it went out of its way to add a star-studded cast but, as the movie progressed, never fully utilized them. I think the best way to put this is I was expecting this movie to be a bit more like the film Clue, with everyone sharing the story equally. Instead, the movie was mostly just about three of the characters with everyone else fading into a secondary role. It just seemed like a waste.

I also found I wasn't a huge fan of Benoit Blanc (Craig), who is also a big part of the reason my wife didn't enjoy the movie. After some reflection, I think this is mostly because the movie couldn't seem to make up its mind about what kind of character he was supposed to be. I didn't know if he was supposed to be a serious character or a comedic character because the film seemed to hint at both but never fully committed to either. I'm also wondering if maybe it would have helped if the character was played by a different actor. It's not that I don't like Daniel Craig in general, I just think this was a bad fit for him.

Final Opinion: As I said, I love murder mysteries and this turned out to be a good one. I just wish the film would have done a slightly better job getting the most out of its star-studded cast.

My Grade: B


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