As intelligent and creative as writer/director Rian Johnson pretends to be, he can't help but stick his quill in other people's ink. Exhibit A: Knives Out, a whodunit which failed to generate intrigue in quite the same concentrated doses as any of the following:
1. Dial M for Murder
2. The List of Adrian Messenger
3. Ten Little Indians
4. Murder on the Orient Express.
The plot concerns nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) who was close to the recently deceased Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer, his usual good self). Rather than fill in a complete back story, Johnson graces his lead actress with the worst possible conceit: she throws up if prompted to lie. How hideous.
In a potentially juicy yet sadly underdeveloped wing man position, Daniel Craig lit up the screen as Benoit Blanc, the Poirot inspired brain box. As the trailer makes clear, he has reason to "suspect foul play." Not many of Harlan's relatives are likeable, especially Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Chris Evans. It's not so much a whodunit as a whydunit with money, that greenest of commodities coming into play.
Original? Certainly not. Meanwhile, editor Bob Ducsay rarely helps matters by resorting to ill advised flashbacks as a crutch.
If I can guess the big mystery before the curtains close, it's usually game over. As such, Knives Out barely takes the stage before copping out.
(Released by Lionsgate and rated PG-13 by MPAA.)