Family and business mix in Knives Out, a whodunnit sleuther from director and writer Rian Johnson that spins the genre on its head by starting out with the murderer revealed.
The real story and mystery reveals itself as a parable about good vs. evil, treating your guests hospitably, and the current state of our nation.
Ana Armas stars as Marta Cabrera, a nurse with a quirk — she can’t lie without vomiting. Her tell makes her the perfect canary for Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), a private detective hired to solve the murder of Cabrera’s charge, mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer).
Harlan was found with his throat slashed after his 85th party. Ruled a suicide, Blanc is hired by an unknown who suspects foul play. Blanc meets the family members at Harlan’s memorial for a second round of questioning.
Each of the family members are interrogated, and each one has a damaging secret to hide from the authorities who are looking for a motive. Vignettes show Harlan giving each of his entitled and untrustworthy family members marching orders in a bid to correct their behavior.
Agatha Christie, 20th-century’s master crime novelist, is the highest-selling novelist of all time.
With 2-billion books sold, she’s behind only the Bible and Shakespeare.
But a quick survey of my inner and outer circles either proves that people in general just don’t read anymore or that pop-culture — in America — has room for Sherlock Holmes but not for Hercule Poirot, Christie’s master sleuth who’s appeared in 33 of her novels and a set of films.
Poirot last appeared in 2013 in Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case with actor David Suchet ending a 24-year turn as the detective for the United Kingdom’s ITV.
Returning to cinemas for the first time 1982’s Evil Under the Sun, Poirot takes on the form of Kenneth Branagh who also directs a a stacked ensemble cast featuring the likes of Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Willem Defoe, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. It could have done no less — watch any crime procedural on television, and you can spot the guilty criminal based solely on the guest star making the cameo.
In Murder on the Orient Express, it takes a village to come up with a master plan.