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Movie Review: 'Knives Out' Heavy, Clever and Unpredictable Whodunit

by Todd A. Smith

 

Lt. Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield, left), Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan, center) and Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, right) in “Knives Out” (Photo Credit: Claire Folger/MRC II Distribution Company, LP).

 

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems 

 

1/2


When The Notorious B.I.G. recorded the song “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” hopefully his immediate family did not provide the inspiration.


On the 1997 song, Biggie talked about how money and power breeds jealousy and envy.


And when one has money, they constantly have to look over their shoulders to see if their friends turned enemies are lurking behind them.


Unfortunately, for Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) in “Knives Out,” his own family has their blades sharpened as they see dollar signs even at the thought or mention of his timely or untimely demise.


But because of the family treachery in the Thrombey mansion, “Knives Out” becomes a heavy, clever and unpredictable whodunit that is a must see over the Thanksgiving holidays and beyond.


In “Knives Out,” Harlan is the hero of the Thrombey family for obvious reasons.


His crime novels and his own publishing company have made him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.


But with wealth comes spoiled children, children in-laws and grandchildren who think it is their birthright to inherit his fortune.


Even at his 85th birthday party, Harlan cannot escape the haunting hex his money has over him and his offspring.


While his birthday party should bring a festive mood to his family, especially since his mother is still around to celebrate a son reaching 85 years old, it is not without its controversy.


When asked how old her grandmother (Harlan’s mother) is, Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis, “Halloween”) responds that she has no idea.


His grandson Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans, “Gifted”) storms out of the mansion after a tense private meeting with Harlan.


Harlan’s son Walt (Michael Shannon) is upset with his father because he does not want to adapt his novels into movies and television shows, which would provide the family with even more wealth.


The wealthy novelist has a grandson named Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Martell, “It: Chapter Two”) who might very well be an alt-right neo-Nazi.


Jacob even finds support from his elders who should criticize his racist views.


His uncle Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson, “Machete”) has respect for legal Hispanic immigrants like Harlan’s nurse and friend Marta, who immigrated to the United States the proper way from Ecuador.


Or did Marta come from Paraguay or Uruguay?


Richard does not know where Marta’s family came from.


That is not important.


All Latin American countries are in fact the same nation, right?


Hell, some idiots in real life do not even know that Puerto Rico is a part of America, so Richard is not alone in his ignorance.


But Richard is happy they followed the laws of the land when they immigrated to the United States. 


Even the levelheaded grandchild has caused Harlan some consternation.


Harlan is tired of paying the expensive tuition for his granddaughter Meg Thrombey (Katherine Langford) and supporting her mother Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette), even though Meg’s father (Harlan’s son) died years earlier.


In “Knives Out” it seems that everyone has ulterior motives in their relationship with the family patriarch.


That is what Biggie talked about when he described the pitfalls of success in “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.”


It seems that the only person in the house that Harlan can trust is his nurse, Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas). 


The two, despite their age difference, strike up a genuine friendship behind board games and medicine.


However, when Harlan is discovered dead with his throat slit, everyone in the house looks suspicious because of the vast wealth that relatives are bound to inherit.


The only problem is that the death looks like a clear suicide.


But why would Harlan kill himself after a “joyous” celebration honoring his 85 years on this planet?


Something seems fishy as police officers like Lt. Elliot (LaKeith Stanfield, “Sorry to Bother You”) begin investigating Harlan’s expiration.


What Lt. Elliot sees as a clear suicide, private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, “Cowboys and Aliens”) sees as something more sinister.


But who would want Harlan dead in “Knives Out?”


Maybe the better question, who would not want Harlan dead in “Knives Out?”


Whodunit?


Did anyone do it?


If so, we already know why they did it.


What moviegoers should know before they figure out whodunit is that “Knives Out” is totally unpredictable.


Go to the restroom and get your popcorn before the movie begins because everyone truly is a suspect like in “Murder on the Orient Express.”


Everyone indeed has the potential to have their knives out as they carve out a piece of Harlan’s fortune for their own personal benefit.


But “Knives Out” has a quirky and unique vibe that “Murder on the Orient Express” does not totally possess.


The eccentricity of Benoit Blanc is totally unique.


For some reason, he strikes the Thrombey family piano while Lt. Elliott interviews the family (also known as the suspects).


While Elliot knows of Benoit’s impressive resume as a private investigator, no one in the Thrombey home knows just why the hell he is there.


No other character descriptions will get divulged in this review of “Knives Out” because this movie critic does not want movie executives and moviegoers to sharpen their own personal knives and go after him.


No clues will come from this review.


No spoilers will come from this review.


But, props will definitely come from this review.

 

Although, more money breeds more problems, the problems that Harlan faces in “Knives Out” only benefit moviegoers who truly want a movie that will keep them guessing until the very end. 



REGAL RATINGS

FOUR CROWNS=EXCELLENT

THREE CROWNS=GOOD

TWO CROWNS=AVERAGE

ONE CROWN=POOR

This article was published on Wednesday 27 November, 2019.
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