I did not love Knives Out. In fact, I was quite disappointed after waiting to see it when it finally became available to rent. I think I made a few mistakes when I first watched it. The first was having too high of an expectation and the second was not seeing it in a theater. With the upcoming release of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, I decided to rewatch the first mystery.
After a rewatch, I can now say that I understand the hype. It only took me three years to get here. Here are the thoughts that helped me change my opinion on Knives Out.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Knives Out Does A Good Job Of Centering The Film Around The Killer Without Ruining The Surprise
Ransom (Chris Evans) appears all throughout, but he doesn’t actually show up in the present until an hour into the movie. However, there is so much talk about him in the first half that we’re left to wonder why is he such a focus. Hyperaware viewers may start to suspect him of somehow being involved in his grandfather’s death.
However, when he seems to be the most self-aware and honest member of Harlan’s (Christopher Plummer) family, he seems less suspicious. Then he immediately helps out Marta (Ana de Armas), so he seems even more innocent.
After rewatching, and knowing that Ransom tries to kill his grandfather and blame Marta, all his calculated actions become more clear. It’s also clearer why the film centers around Harlan’s relationship with Marta and Ransom.
Ransom represents who Harlan was and Marta represents who he wants to become. Ransom tries to take his life, and he willingly sacrifices it for Marta. In many ways, Marta and Ransom are foils to each other as polar opposites. Heck, their names are pretty huge clues that one is a saint and one is shady. The story begins and ends with both of them. Marta was always going to beat Ransom at the game.
Ransom’s attempted murder is obvious if you don’t let Evans’ ties to Captain America fool you.
The Characters Make This Movie
Apparently, thanks to Daniel Craig, the Knives Out cast is full of A+ character actors. The moment their police interrogations begin, you can easily pinpoint each persona in Harlan’s family. We meet the influencer mom, the wannabe woke daughter, the dangerously conservative son, the disappointing husband who married a powerful woman, etc.
Most of the fun of the first half is watching the characters interact with each other and showcase their individual brand of awfulness. The Glass Onion cast is also full of high-profile stars and great character actors, so I’m excited to see what new characters Benoit Blanc (Craig) encounters in the new film.
It's really hard to pick who gives the best Knives Out performance because they all really shine in this movie, which is why the characters are some of the strongest aspects of it.
Knives Out Excites Visually
I am someone who has been really excited about the fact that some films stream alongside their theatrical releases, and that many films are becoming available to view online quicker. I really enjoy the theater experience, but I also enjoy just staying home and watching movies. I am not someone who believes that the only right way to see a film is in the theater.
But, I can admit that there are some movies that work better with the theater experience. It could be because of audience reactions, the special effects, or just being able to see a film in HD without distractions. Rewatching Knives Out, I was able to appreciate the visual excellence of some scenes. Certain framing, lighting, camera lenses, and filters really highlight the stellar visual choices of the movie.
Some scenes are clear tributes to noir films, and the choices of framing and lighting make this more apparent and cool. Also, Harlan’s mansion is pretty freaking fantastic to look at it. This is why I regret not adding to Knives Out’s box office numbers because I imagine that it’s a film that really shines on a big screen.
The Film Involves The Viewers From The Start
Knives Out isn’t a movie that lets viewers passively watch. The crime kicks off the film and we soon learn that Marta accidentally killed Harlan—at least that’s what we all think. Automatically, Marta is painted as this kind and hardworking character, so we care about her. We don’t want her to go to prison for killing Harlan.
We want to see one of Harlan’s despicable family members somehow be the true killer. Rian Johnson immediately pulls the viewer in and makes them get involved as we watch Benoit try to solve the case while Marta tries not to be charged with the murder.
The Women Are Clearly The Brains Of Knives Out
The movie quickly shows that Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is so much smarter than her husband and brother. Later, we see that Marta is smarter than Ransom and Harlan. We even see Meg (Katherine Langford) being the only one in the Thrombey family to actually contribute to the "let’s blackmail Marta to get her to relinquish her inheritance" scheme.
Then we have Fran (Edi Patterson) being the first one to figure out that it was Hugh, a.k.a. Ransom, who attempted to murder Harlan. We also have the grandmother (K. Callan) offering the final piece of evidence to bring him down.
Maybe one of the main reasons Ransom’s plan failed is because he didn’t get a smarter female relative involved. Sexism loses again.
So Many References To The Mystery Genre
I am a fan of mystery shows, movies, and books, but I am not an expert on them. However, even I, a very basic mystery/crime thriller fan, could spot a lot of different references to this genre. We have the obvious one of Benoit calling Marta Watson. Then we have her mother watching Murder She Wrote in the film.
Then Harlan himself is a sort-of Agatha Christie-type author, and Benoit is a combination of many famous detectives, including Hercule Poirot. There are a ton of scenes that take inspiration from some of the best film noir movies. We even get a Benoit Blanc easter egg that pays homage to a beloved crime-thriller. Rian Johnson and crew clearly love the mystery genre and it comes across beautifully in Knives Out.
I may not have any thoughts on the fashion of Knives Out, but I have some more thoughts about the film.
- The KFC CSI line may be my favorite line of the whole film.
- Ana De Armas loves Daniel Craig’s accent in Knives Out, but I still don’t.
- I wouldn’t mind a Lieutenant Elliott (Lakeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) spinoff movie series. It would be very fun.
- The act of lying making Marta puke was such a silly detail that I enjoyed it so much. Hopefully, Glass Onion has more silly character flaws.
- The film is very tragic when you learn that Harlan would have lived if he wasn’t so dramatic.
- The ending, where everything was explained, felt like a very exciting episode of Scooby Doo, and I mean that in the best way.
- Very clever of the film to have the chair of knives become a main character in the end when Ransom tries to kill Marta with one of the prop knives.
- It's also fitting that Ransom trying to trick Marta into killing his grandfather ends with her tricking him into confessing to his crime and then him being tricked with a fake knife.
My newfound admiration for Knives Out makes me super excited to watch the sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out mystery. It premieres in theaters on November 23, 2022. It streams on Netflix on December 23, 2022.
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Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.