Knives Out review – Rian Johnson’s Pristine Murder Mystery | London Film Festival 2019

Like the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, Rian Johnson’s Knives Out keeps you guessing, thinking and in suspense. It’s a fantastically entertaining web of a film, utilising the tricksiness of a murder plot to create spectator engagement in our pursuit of the truth. Johnson’s previous film was Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a terrifically great film and with Knives Out he continues his rather flawless streak of great films.

Starring an all-star cast, Johnson allows for each character to shine, but the main star is really Ana De Armas. De Armas is the centre-thread to the unraveling of Johnson’s tightly-knit who dunnit, followed by Daniel Craig and a pitch-perfect Chris Evans. The film is hilarious which makes it stand out from the Murder on the Orient Express’ and the Sherlock’s – it’s got razor-sharp wit, which allows for a deliriously entertaining ride.


A fateful evening leads to the death of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), the (nearly) eldest and head of the family. A detective (Lakeith Stanfield), trooper (Noah Segan) and private investigator (Daniel Craig) work to solve the winding mystery surrounding the happenings of Mr Thrombey’s demise, a perfect slice to the throat. No suspects are eliminated, they proceed to interview the relatives of the patriarch. Thrombey was last scene with his personal doctor, Marta Cabrera (Ana De Armas) who has a strange quirk that every time she lies, she gets sick.

Rian Johnson’s film boasts a razor-sharp script full of wit, detail and intrigue, his crafting of the progression of the unveiling of narrative clues in the eventual wrapping up is a testament to his screenplay’s brilliance. Backing his top-notch screenplay is his direction, it’s more observational and has its noticeable quirks, such as the whip-pans and expressive zooms to convey deeper meaning to character’s actions, Johnson is able to showcase and characterise the house incredibly well. It’s glorious to look at.


Surprisingly the film owes all to Blade Runner 2049’s Ana De Armas, she is absolutely the lead. And by god does she act her socks off, De Armas is terrific, she is backed by the excellently quirky Daniel Craig, who does an uncanny southern accent like no other. In the massive ensemble the clear stand outs (bar, De Armas and Craig, who are leads) are Chris Evans and Christopher Plummer. I’ve never seen a 89 year old man so alive, it’s as if Johnson has summoned the ghosts of Plummer’s past to reinvigorate him into giving this perfectly cheeky and child-like performance of sweet gravitas. Evans is on top form, he is undoubtedly one of the performers we’ll all be talking about from this film. He has some unforgettably hilarious moments.


Knives Out is a thrillingly intriguing ride. It’s tense and mysterious, Rian Johnson does a fantastic job directing a super-tight script. Ana De Armas owns the film, along with the backing of Daniel Craig and Chris Evans. Although it’s unlikely to be a large Oscar contender, it is remarkably sharp and pristinely executed in a way that may sneak it into screenplay (deservingly) and a few other categories.

4.5/5 Stars

Ben Rolph

KNIVES OUT premiered at TIFF 2019 and is playing at the BFI London Film Festival NOW


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