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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 29, 2019


the cast of KNIVES OUT

ana de armas and daniel craig

‘KNIVES OUT’ is a detective thriller that is a tribute to the works of Agatha Christie. It even pays homage to “Murder, She Wrote” with a footage showing Angela Lansbury who earlier played Christie’s Miss Marple in “The Mirror Crack’d”.

Here, it’s Daniel Craig, James Bond no less, who assumes the Detective Hercule Poirot role in Christie’s novels.

The film is directed by Rian Johnson, who debuted with the detective-mystery movie, “Brick”, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt in 2006, and later did the acclaimed “Looper”, a sci-fi flick involving time travel, once again starring Levitt.

Finally, in 2017, he went big time with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, which did well so he now gets to do the star-studded “Knives Out”.

It starts with Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dying in his Gothic New England mansion after celebrating his 85th birthday with the members of his extended family. It looks like he slit his own neck.

Two policemen (LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan) come to investigate along with a private detective, Benoit Blanc (Craig), who says someone sent him a thick envelope full of money to make his own investigation. They then interview all the members of the family.

Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is the daughter of Harlan who’s married to Richard (Don Johnson), who Harlan discovers to be cheating on Linda. They have a son, Ransom (Chris Evans), considered as the family’s black sheep. Joni (Toni Colette) is the widow of Harlan’s late son.

Harlan discovers that she stole money from him that is meant for the college education of her daughter, Megan (Katherine Langford of Netflix’ “13 Reasons Why”). Walt (Michael Shannon) is Harlan’s youngest son who’s managing his dad’s publishing company but lately, he’s been fighting a lot with his old man.

The movie’s lead character is actually Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas, who looks like local actress Beth Tamayo), Harlan’s caregiver. The entire family is horrified when they find out that, in the will he left, Harlan left all his wealth to her. The main question, of course, is: Did Harlan really commit suicide or did someone else kill him? Then a second character dies mysteriously, so who can the culprit really be?

The narrative is meant to be a well told caper told in so many flashbacks, but it gets so convoluted that after a while, we no longer really care. We’ve seen so many samples of the genre as Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” has just been remade and the remake of another Christie movie, “Death on the Nile”, is also coming soon.

And then, of course, we’ve also seen it all before in Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason, Magnum P.I., the 12 seasons of Jessica Fletcher, etc. etc. and we’re just tired of these whodunits and their now standard formula with the familiar lengthy explanations made by the lead detective in the film’s predictable climax.

Craig seems to enjoy his role and chews the scenery as he puts the pieces of the puzzle together with a put on Southern drawl. This is an ensemble movie, but it’s inevitable that some cast members get short shrifted by the others who have meatier roles.

Ana de Armas makes the most of her biggest role to date and she delivers as the sympathetic Hispanic caregiver who vomits each time she lies and whose mom is an illegal migrant used to blackmail her. Harlan’s family professes to love her but they can’t even remember the exact South American country where she hails from.

Don Johnson’s character is a Trump supporter who sounds so Neo-Nazi and another character even gets to borrow a line from the musical “Hamilton” that rants about immigration to put in some social commentary. Toni Colette is a scene-stealer as the theatrical Joni, who gets to drop a number of one-liners.

If there’s one star who we think made a mistake of accepting his role here, it’s Chris Evans. Maybe he wants to show he’s got a wide acting range and is not just good as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he plays a very negative character here we don’t think it will help forward his career at all.