Knives Out

Knives Out is a 2019 American mystery film written and directed by Rian Johnson, and produced by Johnson and Ram Bergman. A modern whodunit, the film follows a family gathering gone awry, after the patriarch’s death leads a master detective to investigate. The film features an ensemble cast, including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey invites his family to his Massachusetts mansion for his 85th birthday party. The next morning, Harlan’s housekeeper Fran finds him dead, with his throat slit. The police are convinced it was suicide, but an anonymous party pays private detective Benoit Blanc to investigate. Blanc learns that Harlan’s relationships with his family were strained: he threatened to expose his son-in-law Richard for cheating on his wife Linda, cut off his daughter-in-law Joni’s allowance for stealing from him, fired his younger son Walt from his publishing company, and had an altercation with his black sheep grandson Ransom.

Unknown to Blanc, after the party, Harlan’s nurse, Marta Cabrera, accidentally administered him an overdose of morphine instead of his usual medication, and then realized what she had done upon seeing the label on the medication vial. She could not find the antidote, leaving Harlan minutes to live. To protect Marta, Harlan gave her instructions to create a false alibi to avoid suspicion over his death; he then slit his own throat. Marta carried out Harlan’s instructions; Harlan’s elderly mother saw her doing so but mistook her for Ransom. Marta cannot lie without vomiting, so she gives true but incomplete answers when Blanc questions her. Blanc asks her to assist his investigation. As they search the property, Marta attempts to conceal evidence of her guilt. Harlan’s will is read: he left everything to Marta, to her astonishment as well as the family’s. They turn on her, but Ransom helps her escape. Ransom persuades Marta to confess to him and offers to help her in exchange for his share of the inheritance. The other Thrombeys try to persuade Marta to renounce her inheritance; Walt threatens to expose her mother as an undocumented immigrant.

Marta receives an anonymous blackmail note with a partial photocopy of Harlan’s toxicology report. She and Ransom drive to the medical examiner’s office, but the building has been destroyed by arson. Marta receives an anonymous email with a time and address to meet the blackmailer. Blanc and the police, also investigating the arson, spot Marta and Ransom. After a brief car chase, the police arrest Ransom; Blanc explains to Marta that Harlan’s mother saw Ransom climbing down from Harlan’s room the night he died. Marta goes to the address in the email and discovers Fran drugged, along with her own missing medical case. Marta hesitates, realizing that Fran can link her to the crime, but performs CPR on Fran and calls 911. Marta confesses to Blanc, but Ransom has already informed on her. At the house, Marta finds a copy of the full toxicology report hidden in Fran’s cannabis stash. Blanc reads it, and then interrupts Marta before she can confess to the family that she caused Harlan’s death.

Blanc reveals his deductions: After Ransom learned at the party that Harlan was leaving everything to Marta, he swapped the contents of Marta’s medication vials and stole the antidote so she would kill Harlan with an overdose of morphine, making her ineligible to claim the inheritance by the slayer rule. However, Marta actually administered the correct medicine without reading the labels, recognizing it by the weight and viscosity of the fluid, and is therefore innocent of Harlan’s death. After the death was reported as suicide, Ransom anonymously hired Blanc to expose Marta as a murderer. Fran later saw Ransom stealing Marta’s medical case to hide the fact that the contents of the vials had been switched, and sent him the blackmail note. Realizing that Marta had unknowingly given Harlan the correct medication, Ransom forwarded the note to Marta. He burned down the medical examiner’s office to destroy evidence of Marta’s innocence. Finally, he drugged Fran with an overdose of morphine and emailed her location to Marta, planning to frame Marta for Fran’s murder.

Marta tricks Ransom into confessing by lying that Fran has survived and will implicate him; after he confesses and vows revenge, she vomits on him, revealing the lie. Enraged, he attacks her with a knife, but it is a retractable stage knife. The police have recorded Ransom’s confession, and arrest him. Marta asks Blanc when he realized she played a part in Harlan’s death, and Blanc responds that he knew from the beginning, noting a small spot of blood on one of Marta’s shoes. As Ransom is taken into custody, Marta watches the Thrombeys depart from what is now her mansion.

Good fun, some good acting with a bit of humour. Craig is obviously having a ball playing his role, which is planned on being a new series. As is Evans, relishing in his role as a villains and totally different from what we normally see him as. You have a great cast and a good story. It was enjoyable and an 8 outta 10 for me!

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