Review: In ‘Knives Out,’ a whodunit for the Trump era

This image released by Lionsgate shows Ana de Armas (left) and Daniel Craig in a scene from "Knives Out." 

"Knives Out" is "Clue" for the 21st Century, a clever, star-studded whodunnit from writer/director Rian Johnson.

Johnson has crafted a wonderfully jumbled  tale of family and murder that pays homage to murder mysteries and is effortlessly entertaining.

"Knives Out" tells the story of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a wealthy mystery writer who is found dead on the night of his 85th birthday. At first the death is ruled a suicide, but when someone enlists well renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to investigate the suicide becomes a murder investigation - with everyone a suspect.

That includes all the family members - Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), her husband Richard (Don Johnson), daughter in-law Joni (Toni Collette), Harlan's older son Walt (Michael Shannon) and estranged younger son Ransom (Chris Evans) - as well as caretaker Marta (Ana de Armas), an immigrant is trying to provide for her mother.

With the help of local detectives (LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan), Blanc sifts through all the motives and the clues on the premise to make his case - and find the person responsible for Harlan's death.

Johnson's screenplay pops with life and originality. "Knives Out" may be a mystery, but the family dynamics is fleshed out in a way to give the main story plenty of biting comic death. 

As a director, Johnson uses the same time-shifting narrative to let the story unfold, giving audiences just enough information to keep them guessing before the final reveal.

All of this works because the cast is so outstanding. Everyone gets a moment to shine, Collette really seems to be having a good time, but it is de Armas and Craig who lead the way.

De Armas provides "Knives Out" with its moral compass, and a subplot that really resonates in the Trump era, but it's Craig who completely steals the film. He plays Blanc with a thick Southern accent (one character refers to him as KFC CSI) that is a far cry from his days as James Bond. Much like he did in "Logan Lucky," Craig shows a comedic side that really drives "Knives Out."

He's having a lot of fun, and ultimately the audience is having fun too.

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