A new hit murder mystery movie makes top 10 for five weeks

Andrea McClary, Ad Editor

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Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” is one of the most entertaining films out right now. It’s not just a wildly fun mystery to unravel but a scathing bit of social commentary about where America is in 2020. Directing a wildly charismatic cast who are all-in on what he’s doing, Johnson confidently stays a step or two ahead of his audience, leaving them breathless but satisfied at the end.

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… what if? A couple of cops 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. The daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a successful businesswoman with a horrible 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 his dad. The 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 star 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 huge ego into something memorable. Blanc was delivered a news story about the suicide and envelope of money. Why? The question of who brought in Blanc drives the narrative as much as who killed Harlan.

Craig is amazing, he has such 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. But, in terms of performance, the often-promising de Armas has never been handed a role this big, and she totally delivers.

“Knives Out” is a film that works because of Johnson’s love for the genre. A lot of talented directors have returned to genre movies after making a fortune and brought too much self-awareness with them, but that’s not the case here.

Ultimately, as in the films and books that inspired this one, it’s all about the whodunit, which is revealed in such unexpected ways that just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize something doesn’t add up. When it’s actually over you’ll be shocked,  marveling at not just how the details of what happened that night revealed themselves, but the social message embedded in all of it.

I highly recommend watching this movie if you enjoy a good mystery book or movie, for this I give it a four out of five spartan heads. Maybe you’ll be able to solve the mystery before the rest of them do.