Before he ruined the Star Wars franchise — and destroyed the childhoods of countless nerds — with 2017’s The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson made his name with a pair of excellent twisty, noir-ish films: 2005’s Brick and 2008’s The Brothers Bloom. With his latest feature, Knives Out, Johnson seems to have returned to that earlier material with a whodunit about the murder of a wealthy author, and his dysfunctional family full of suspects.
Knives Out — which stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer — had its debut at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly glowing.
Kambole Campbell, “A Razor-Sharp Whodunnit That Cuts Entitlement Down To Size”:
No stranger to turning subgenres inside out, Rian Johnson has returned from his Star Wars tenure in a big way with Knives Out, a culmination of the kind of self-aware, post-modern filmmaking that made his name. A meticulously and ingeniously crafted whodunnit in the style of Agatha Christie, the film subverts and mutates the template of the murder mystery into something new, surprising and extremely entertaining.
Peter Debruge, “[An] old-school, all-star Agatha Christie homage”:
With Knives Out, writer-director Rian Johnson shows that there’s life left in the genre, paying crowd-pleasing tribute to the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Ruth Rendell with a wondrously convoluted case recounted in the most roundabout way possible
Angie Han, “Rian Johnson’s ‘Knives Out’ might be the most fun you’ll have at the movies this year”:
Knives Out is a classic whodunit, and doesn’t mind who knows it; a character observes at one point that the victim “practically lived in a Clue board.” But its finesse, style, and very modern concerns keep it feeling perfectly fresh, while its attention to detail invites rewatching and rethinking.
Charles Bramesco, “Rian Johnson Crafts A Terrific, Ingenious Whodunnit About American Rot”:
[A] devilishly clever mystery that reconfigures itself approximately every ten minutes, until the film has expanded in purpose to encompass a grand statement about America and our current moment. That’s vague praise, but if there was ever a film bettered by a complete lack of knowledge going in, it’s this thicket of plot twists and revelatory flashbacks. For once, the frothy-mouthed spoiler paranoia taking over the moviegoing culture might be justified.
Richard Lawson: “A Blissfully Fun Whodunnit, with a Dash of Politics”:
Whether or not Knives Out is direct political allegory I suppose you can decide for yourself. There’s definitely a fair read of the film that says it’s exactly that, a sneaky immolation of the wealthy ruling class, the fun of the film functioning as the piece of bread the bitter pill is stuffed into. But Knives Out can also just be an antic, intricately constructed lark if you want it to be.
A.A. Dowd: “Rian Johnson chases Star Wars with the ingenious, madly entertaining murder mystery Knives Out”:
Knives Out… an ingenious sleight-of-hand crowdpleaser, doesn’t just build to a whopper of an ending, as all Agatha Christie riffs must. It stacks surprises on top of surprises, springing them so early and often that responsibly writing about the film becomes an exercise in obfuscation itself, turning critics into guilty parties with secrets to conceal, like Leopold and Loeb dancing around that dead body in Rope.
Knives Out opens in theaters on November 27. Watch the trailer below.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.