Whodunit films are hard to come by today, and Knives Out’s rave critic reviews suggests they should make a comeback. This Agatha Christie esque film surrounds the Thrombey family after the head of the family, the successful mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies following his 85th birthday party. Ana de Armas plays the main character, Marta Carbrerra, the full time nurse of Harlan Thrombey. The likes of Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Katherine Langford, and Jaeden Lieberher act as members of the Thrombey family. The fast paced movie is in a traditional whodunit format, with modernized characters. It has retro and aesthetically pleasing visuals, largely due to the Thrombeys’ gothic revival style home that is the scene of the crime.
The whodunit movie modernized itself by addressing contemporary politics. Within the family, different politics are portrayed. Morris Bristow (Don Johnson) goes on an unfiltered anti-immigration rant, and one of the grandchildren of Harlan, Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Lieberher), is an active member in the internet alt-right and frequently calls his cousin Meg a “snowflake.” Meg (Katherine Langford) and her mother’s ideals clash with other members of the wealthy family. Marta is a Latina woman and the Thrombey family can’t seem to understand where she is from, a satirical display of ignorance.
Seeing so many A-list actors in a film like this was surprising because of the niche genre that it is. Two stand out performances are that of Daniel Craig and Chris Evans who were cast against type. Craig is known for playing the iconic James Bond, though in this film he plays a comedic southern drawled detective. Chris Evans steps away from his golden-boy Captain America image, and plays a trust-fund playboy. This change of pace for the two actors was impressive and entertaining. Successful movies of this genre have been lodged in the past. Knives Out isn’t the only film that has tried to bring back this genre; the 2017 reboot of Murder on the Orient Express made an attempt to bring it back as well, but didn’t come off as authentic, and was met with mediocre reviews at best.
The film manages to be many things at once. It is somehow simultaneously funny and dark, warm and cold, as well as being both predictable and surprising. How everything unfolded was unexpected and intricate. It’s hard to disagree with the movie’s stellar reviews (96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). Whodunit films are rare today, but Knives Out’s quality and reviews suggest they should make a comeback.