Knives Out
2019
***½
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer

On the morning after his 85th birthday party, wealthy novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead with his throat slit. Was it suicide or was he murdered by someone in his family or staff? Rian Johnson has built a career out of creating genre exercises where style often comes before substance. Some of his films have been good (Looper – science fiction), some have been bad (The Brothers Bloom – caper comedy), and some have landed somewhere in the middle (Brick – film noir). This time Johnson takes on a whodunnit. He weaves a twisty, inventive and often funny murder mystery, but at the end I’m not sure if the whole amounts to anything more than a terrific looking diversion. The performances are strong, although Daniel Craig’s comically hammy performance as the eccentric private detective Benoit Blanc sticks out like a sore thumb. Followed by Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.