Knives Out by Rian Johnson [8/10]

Who is this Rian Johnson? I’d heard of his “Looper” from 2012 but I’m no Star Wars fan, so his 2017 “The Last Jedi” passed me by. Based on “Knives Out,” his extravagantly Cluedo-meets-Poirot genre outing, I should have kept an eye out, for this is a treat for the senses and the mind alike. The setup is pure Agatha Christie – an aging writer (Christopher Plummer is, as always, spot on) who dies on his birthday, surrounded by a family of rogues, and along comes the cerebral, gimlet-eyed detective to help the police solve what is essentially a locked-room mystery. The locale, a gothic treat of an old mansion, is almost a character in its own right. Plenty of splendid performances here from the likes of Toni Collette, though to be fair, the script is so razor-sharp, the actors can ham things up without concern. And Daniel Craig as the cigar-toting private eye with the languid Southern accent to end them all? Believe it or not, he also rises to the occasion. Lush, kinetic, and brain-tickling, “Knives Out” grabs you from frame one and never lets go.

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