R ian Johnson unsheathes an entertainingly nasty, if insubstantial detective mystery with his new film, Knives Out. Back in 2005, his debut movie Brick (a high-school thriller) paid tribute to the. Critics consensus Knives Out sharpens old murder-mystery tropes with a keenly assembled suspense outing that makes brilliant use of writer-director Rian Johnson's stellar ensemble. For a full review, take a look at our coverage for the 4K Ultra HD Release. Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray. Lionsgate delivers Knives Out to Blu-rya with a splendid 2-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital release. The discs are housed in a standard eco-friendly case with identical cardboard slipcover artwork.
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Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a wildly successful mystery writer and he’s dead. His housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) finds him with a slit throat and the knife still in his hand. It looks like suicide, but there are some questions. After all, who really slits their own throat? A couple of cops (the wonderful pair of LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan) come to the Thrombey estate do a small investigation, just to make sure they’re not missing anything, and the film opens with their conversations with each of the Thrombey family members. Daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a successful businesswoman with a shit husband named Richard (Don Johnson) and an awful son named Ransom (Chris Evans). Son Walt (Michael Shannon) runs the publishing side, but he’s been fighting a lot with dear old dad. Daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette) is deep into self-help but has been helping herself by ripping off the old man. Finally, there’s Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), the real heroine of “Knives Out” and Harlan’s most trusted confidante. Can she help solve the case?
The case may have just been closed if not for the arrival of the famous detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, who spins a southern drawl and oversized ego into something instantly memorable. Blanc was delivered a news story about the suicide and envelope of money. So someone thinks this is fishy. Why? And who? The question of who brought in Blanc drives the narrative as much as who killed Harlan. Johnson is constantly presenting viewers with the familiar, especially fans of the mystery movie—the single palatial setting, the family of monsters, the exaggerated detective—but then he subverts them every so slightly, and it feels fresh. So while Blanc feels like a Poirot riff, Johnson and Craig avoid turning it into a caricature of something we’ve seen before.
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Craig is delightful—I love the excitement in his voice when he figures things out late in the film—but some of the cast gets lost. It’s inevitable with one this big, but if you’re going to “Knives Out” for a specific actor or actress, be aware that it’s a large ensemble piece and your fave may get short shrift. Unless your favorite is Ana de Armas, who is really the heart of the movie, allowing Johnson to imbue “Knives Out” with some wonderful political commentary. The Thrombeys claim to love Marta, even if they can’t remember which South American country she comes from, and Don Johnson gets a few razor sharp scenes as the kind of guy who rants about immigration before quoting “Hamilton.” It’s not embedded in the entire piece as much as “Get Out,” but this “Out” is similar in the way it uses genre structure to say something about wealth and social inequality. And in terms of performance, the often-promising de Armas has never been handed a role this big, and she totally delivers.