Thumbs Up and Out for “Knives Out”


Bradley Hare

I have to wonder where they draw the line at the number of knives on that wheel.


Detective movies have always been in a precarious spot, not only do they have to make sure their stories are investing, but that the twist isn’t instantly obvious to the viewers. It’s a delicate balance that must be taken care of with the story taking more importance than ever. Thankfully, “Knives Out” delivers on its story, but also manages to keep the rest of the film flowing swimmingly.


The plot revolves around rich story writer Harlan Thronbey, played by Christopher Plummer, who allegedly committees suicide, and the entire family comies to mourn his loss, including the personal maid Marta Cabera, played by Ana De Armas.


However, when the police get involved, especially with the eccentric detective Benoit Blanc, played by David Craig, they deduce that it was a murder, and everyone is a suspect, especially once the matter of the inheritance gets thrown into the mix.


The mystery is the strongest part of the film. It’s actually more of a backseat plot as the real plot is about Marta trying to just make it out alive.


The Thronbeys all have their own little quirks and flaws that make them more like obstacles for Marta to overcome rather than actual help, even when they give their own clues on what happened on that fateful night. It helps that they all are humorous in their own rights.


It’s as much of a comedy as it is a suspenseful murder mystery, from the family selling each other out, calling some a Nazi with bluntness, and they usually have something to laugh at when the mood is right.


Of course, Blanc and his own quirks help bring the role of the aloof detective that is still smarter than you to life. From using a piano to interrupt people, referring to a will reading as a community theater production of a tax return, and using donuts to describe his case, he NEEDS to become a detective in more movies often!


The humor does, unfortunately, drain away some of the serious elements when it is time to focus on them. As hilarious as it is, the film suffers from a bit of tonal whiplash as a result. It ends up making the entire family feel unsympathetic.


I guess that makes sense for a detective movie to not care about potential subjects, they managed to make Marta likeable with her own quirks of puking whenever she lies, so I highly doubt that it would be hard to make them more endearing and sympathetic. Other detective works I seen have the suspects be likeable as well, so it really can’t be that difficult, right?


As for the big mystery reveal, while I wasn’t able to figure it out in time, I can definitely see someone else figuring it out, especially with just how blunt this character is with their actions. I feel kind of stupid not realizing him.


Despite this, the interaction between Marta and Blanc with the rest of the family are the highlights of the film, showing just how above it all they are in comparison to them, especially when it comes to the endgame and the person behind it all.


With a strong story and comedy being held back by weak characters and some confused tones, it’s still easy to see that this movie is guilty of being an enjoyable time. Bail will be paid at the nearest movie theater at your earliest available moment while the film is still serving time in theaters.