From Hercule Poirot’s debut in an Agatha Christie novel in 1920, to the hard-boiled detectives of the 1930s, to the Pink Panther comedies, the whodunit was a perennially popular film genre—until its decline in the 1980s, when true-crime re-enactments took over. But, with Knives Out, writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) is on a mission to reaffirm the whodunit’s rightful place on the big screen—and casually reinvent the form while he’s at it.
Knives Out has a gobsmacking ensemble, with Christopher Plummer (as writer Harlan Thrombey, the victim), Ana de Armas (as Marta, Thrombey’s nurse and confidant), Daniel Craig (as Benoit Blanc, the famous private detective who shows up to query Thrombey’s apparent suicide), and Lakeith Stanfield (as the investigating Lieutenant Elliott). Making up Thrombey’s extended, entitled family are Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Riki Lindhome, K Callan, Katherine Langford and Jaeden Martell—all well fed by his wealth and determined to protect their piece of it.
It’s a Rian Johnson movie, so Noah Segan shows up as well, in perhaps his meatiest role yet, as a cop working with Stanfield. There’s also a delightful cameo from Frank Oz.