'Knives Out' - Movie Review

Rian Johnson has already had an extraordinarily varied career: "Brick," "The Brothers Bloom," "Looper," "Star Wars: the Last Jedi," and now this. Of those, "The Brothers Bloom" has the lowest score on Rotten Tomatoes at 68%. The critics love him ... except for this critic: he's at about 30% on the Gilesmeter. I've seen all the named movies, and found every one of them overtly stylized and over-the-top. Had I thought about that list of movies before sitting down to this one ... I probably wouldn't have sat down. But I did, and it's ... okay. Which makes it my favourite Rian Johnson movie.

The movie mashes up every heavy-handed detective trope ever created: Agatha Christie, "Clue," "Colombo," "Murder She Wrote," "The Thin Man" ... I could go on, but you get the idea. Christopher Plummer is Harlan Thrombey, the rich family patriarch and mystery author - dead late on the night of the family gathering for his 85th birthday party. The police think it's suicide, but someone has anonymously hired Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, having a grand old time putting on a passable if not brilliant Southern accent). He insists that Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), Harlan's paid nurse and possibly the only decent person in the household, accompany him as he investigates. But she's closer to the death than she wants to be ...

Johnson has crafted an appropriately (perhaps "ludicrously") complex mystery, complete with multiple reversals. Almost continuous hystrionics from an ensemble cast of some of North America's best actors reading a script in which they tear each other to shreds guarantees a fair bit of fun ... but I found it more annoying than masterful, and thought it mistook complexity for brilliance. But fans of the genre will undoubtedly enjoy this blend of send-up and tribute.