Written by / 6/14/2020 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RIAN JOHNSON DIRECTS THE ENSEMBLE MYSTERY 'KNIVES OUT'

Lakeith Stanfield solo poster for KNIVES OUT Year: 2019
Rian Johnson must be seething that he didn't make the singular Spanish "Help" a Black woman given that, a year after KNIVES OUT hit theaters, we'd have a pandemic (closing all theaters) followed by a political uprising of African Americans, making the whole "Undocumented Worker" issue — which owns 51% of the story-line here — as dated as the Sony Walkman, Legwarmers and Bellbottoms...

And Johnson has successfully resurrected the Ensemble Cast Whodunnit, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette and Michael Shannon. But in the past they'd be playing rich, white, crooked culprits who are also eclectic, darkly-humorous, interesting and intriguing enough to create an entire story around. But as noted in, ironically, another review involving Michael Shannon (THE SHAPE OF WATER): Antagonists are no longer people who do bad things, but simply, bad people...

Daniel Craig's mocking laughter as if his character wrote KNIVES OUT
From one off-screen argument concerning illegal aliens breaking the laws of American-only America, the already obvious message of KNIVES OUT becomes far too clear, and the aforementioned cast merely serves to back up the most heated side of that debate, hardly having anything to do with the Mystery at hand or fleshing out their roles in it...

Only Daniel Craig, as a cocky Southern (American) private-eye, and Ana de Armas, as dead Mystery writer Christopher Plummer's trusted nurse and household maid, have anything to do with how things not only pan out but — following Craig's overlong "explaining the murder" diatribe — ultimately turn out. That's if you don't include the entire third-act finally providing Chris Evans his second-star status; he begins a sort of likeable anti-rich rich jerk who eventually morphs the preachy social commentary into even more unbearably preachy wordplay...

Daniel Craig and LaKeith Stanfield in KNIVES OUT Rates: **
And one of the most banal plot-points involves the maid's reaction to lying, making an important character even more of an agenda with a pulse. And hardly even that. Ana de Armas is merely a pair of pretty pouty-lips here... Leaving the best character to be the least important...

LaKeith Stanfield plays a black (yes, black) local detective who would have failed at solving the case had quirky Daniel Craig not been hired, and his job is to ground a possible crime that writer/director Rian Johnson created to reshape/end all Cinematic Mysteries. But unlike this earthy lawman, KNIVES OUT needs some serious grounding. "Why was I hired?" Craig's Benoit Blanc desperately asks Stanfield's Lieutenant Elliott. Probably the most logical question raised all along. And like so much else here, without either a logical or halfway satisfying answer/conclusion.

Michael Shannon as another side-character wasted in KNIVES OUT
SUMMARY REVIEW: The problem isn't the fact that Rian Johnson allowed his political undertone to become an obvious overtone (something mentioned in a myriad of Average Joe reviews yet hardly any professional media reviews)...

But that that particular debate, now extremely dated in the wake of the Coronavius and the black revolution, has made a retro-style Whodunnit into a Mystery/Thriller that's not the least bit mysterious, or thrilling. Meanwhile, the All-Star Cast are totally wasted save for two: Daniel Craig and Anna de Armas. Everyone else either backs up their collective assumptions or proves what the predictable agenda has been all along.
More interior displays in the house from KNIVES OUT
Well it did have a cool opening credit font
More interior displays in the house from KNIVES OUT
Some interior of Rian Johnson's retro mystery KNIVES OUT
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