Verdict: This all-star tribute to murder mysteries is both piercing and witty.

Following his stint as the director of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson took up Knives Out which he describes as a modern take on the whodunit murder mystery genre. Acting as producer, writer, and director for the film, he has also brought together an exciting ensemble cast including the likes of Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans and more.

What’s Knives Out About:

The acclaimed murder-mystery novelist and patriarch of the Thrombey family, Harlan (Christopher Plummer) has just been found dead in his study following his 85th birthday celebration. The cops (LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan) accompanied by the renowned private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) thus begin a sinuous investigation where everyone’s a suspect. It soon becomes evident that the clan consists of a bunch of bad apples vying for Harlan’s fortune. The extensive list of Thrombey suspects include Harlan’s son Walt (Michael Shannon) and his wife Donna (Riki Lindhome), grandchildren Meg (Katherine Langford) and Jacob (Jaeden Martell), and daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette) along with the Drysdales consisting of Harlan’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), her husband Richard (Don Johnson), and their son Ransom (Chris Evans). However, sitting at the center of this murder-mystery maze seems to be Harlan’s closest friend and his earnest nurse Marta (Ana de Armas), who could be the key to solving the case.

What Works:

If the impressive ensemble cast isn’t enough to make you want to watch Knives Out, there’s also the fact that it is a homage to murder mysteries done right. Rian Johnson gives us a meta and modern version of the classic Agatha Christie-style suspense thriller. It’s cheeky, it’s packed with twists, and boy is it full of an irresistible sense of fun. As a viewer, you get to become an investigator yourself with Johnson dropping clues in a compilation of interrogations, reveals, and flashbacks. Also, let’s not forget that incredible and unforgettable donut of knives centerpiece. While not steering too far away from what it’s meant to be – a modernized tribute to the whodunnits of yesteryear – he also nestles in an enjoyable amount of cheeky references to Trump, the Hamilton musical, Murder She Wrote, and even the award-winning Baby Driver.

Speaking of award winners, the former James Bond actor goes from being a spy to a private eye in Knives Out. Swapping out the crisp suits for tweed jackets, Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc is enjoyably ridiculous as the private detective ripped straight out of a pulp novel. It’s evident how much fun he’s having in the role as he swaps his suave demeanor for a southern accent. Meanwhile, Jaime Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, and Katherine Langford also have a blast in characters unlike anything you may have seen them play before. Ana de Armas is especially brilliant in what seems like her biggest role in Hollywood yet.

All things considered, Knives Out is designed to be watched more than once. There are enough hidden clues, sly references, and memorable performances from the cast to keep you coming back for more.

What Could’ve Been Better:

With the large ensemble cast of Knives Out, it is inevitable that a few characters are underdeveloped or don’t get the screen time they deserve. However, this shortcoming is inevitably overshadowed by Rian Johnson’s sharp and crowd-pleasing screenplay.

Why You Should Watch:

Rooted in the beloved old-fashioned murder mysteries with the addition of sharp humor and sly references, Knives Out is exactly as fun as you’d hope. Watch it for a solid movie-going experience that unleashes your inner sleuth.