Cert 15 130mins Stars 4
James Bond does Agatha Christie in this highly polished whodunnit murder mystery of delicious, deceptive and devious fun, and packs a kind heart but few coronets into it’s suitably gothic countryside mansion setting.
Let loose from the straitjacket of super spy 007, Daniel Craig gives a hugely entertaining and theatrical performance as a famous private detective, offering a little humility and a hint he’s not quite the figure of his reputation.
Armed with nothing more than a large cigar and a name as over the top as his strong US drawl, Benoit Blanc is famed as the ‘the last of the gentleman sleuths’.
He’s hired to help the local police establish whether foul play in the apparent suicide of a wealthy and famous author, played by the redoubtable Christopher Plummer.
Appearing in flashback and giving a typically brilliant and impressively vital and mischievous turn, the 89 year old outshines his co-stars which is some doing, especially as his character is technically dead from the beginning.
There’s no shortage of suspects or motives among his grasping, unreliable and dishonest relatives who gather to hear the reading of his will, and are played with appropriate self-interest by accomplished veterans such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Don Johnson.
Also out of his usual screen uniform is Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans, who swaps his spandex for comfy knitwear as the arrogant foulmouthed black sheep of the family.
Ana de Armas is also in the frame as Marta, the former nurse to the deceased, a character which allows the film to explore the relationship between the US and it’s Central and South American neighbours, and ponder the corrupting and transitory link of wealth and power.
It’s another impressive performance, before the Blade Runner 2049 actress re-teams with Craig in April next year in 007’s next adventure, No Time To Die.
Among the blackmail, gaslighting, fraud, feuds, and affairs, the script also takes satirical stabs at alt-right trolls, and lifestyle gurus.
It’s written by director Rian Johnson, and marks another impressive switch in direction after last year’s Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and his High school film noir, Brick.
Toying with our expectations and generally twisting the rules, Knives Out smartly undermines the myth of the all-knowing detective, and like all great mysteries it keeps you guessing right until the end.