Put 'I read a tweet about a New Yorker article about you' on my gravestone and let me die a happy man. 'Knives Out' is a whodunit mystery that follows a dysfunctional family that comes together following the suicide, or possible murder, of their rich patriarchal father. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the film […]

Put 'I read a tweet about a New Yorker article about you' onmy gravestone and let me die a happy man.

'Knives Out' is a whodunit mystery that follows adysfunctional family that comes together following the suicide, or possible murder,of their rich patriarchal father. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, thefilm features an ensemble cast, including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana deArmas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LakeithStanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

If you don't know Rian Johnson's name you surely are familiarwith his work as the man who made Bruce Willis fight a younger version ofhimself (in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in 'Looper' annnnnnd the guy whosplit the Star Wars fanbase in half with 'The Last Jedi.' Some looked forwardto his saga follow-up with great anticipation, others like myself with mostlyindifference, which is par-for-the-course for Johnson, who has openly admitted hesets out to have his films cherished by half the audience and loathed by theother (a feat he certainly accomplished with 'The Last Jedi'). Somehow, I don'tthink 'Knives Out' will have a rapturous divide among those who see it, as itis an overall enjoyable ride with enough quirky characters and humorous momentsto offset some suspect writing.

When you get a cast this big, it is inevitable that some ofthem will be nothing more than extended cameos, but each actor gets a moment toshine. Daniel Craig talks like Colonel Sanders; Toni Callette is a tanning bedBarbie doll straight out of Buzzfeed; Katherine Langford vapes; Chris Evans wearsincredible sweaters; each has a distinct moment that makes their charactersfeel real, if not at least entertaining.

Rian Johnson's strengths lie mostly with his direction andnot his writing (more on that in a second). From a director standpoint, this isa very solid job by Johnson, as he not only keeps the pace moving for most ofthe film (although at 130 minutes it could've used a final fat trimming) andgets fine performances out of his actors. The way Johnson plays with camera anglesand moves it around puts us into the frame of minds of the characters, and withBob Ducsay's quick editing some scenes truly crackle.

However where Johnson sometimes stumbles are his scripts. Whetherit is entirely unnecessary subplots or so many characters that motivations get muddled(problems that are prevalent here and in his previous works), Johnson seems tothink his writing is smarter than it actually is. Having any word he types cutout would be a sin, and as we've seen with the likes of Quintin Tarantino andJudd Apatow, this can be killer for writer-director's films.

The film features a few fun twists but I couldn't help butfeel the actual big reveal lost some of its impact because of events that hadtranspired earlier. I won't go into spoilers, but I think the film took so manytwists and turns that eventually they stopped being twists and had just turnedback to a familiar direction.

'Knives Out' is the type of movie that 'they just don't makeanymore' (whatever that old and clichéd expression means to you) and for mostof the runtime I was really enjoying myself. Toni Callette delivers a handfulof wonderfully stupid lines and Chris Evans begins his post-Marvel career witha [bleep]-eating grin, and although the landing could have been stronger, Ithink this is a mystery worth investigating.

Critics Rating: 8/10