Knives Out (PG13)
Starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas
Directed by Rian Johnson
After a factious run in Blockbuster Boulevard (hello, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), writer-director Rian Johnson returns to his indie roots (remember his debut Brick?) for this impish whodunit.
Daniel Craig stars as Benoit Blanc, a freelance investigator (“the last of the gentlemen sleuths”) called in to solve the murder of a renowned crime novelist (Christopher Plummer).
The suspects? The deceased’s parasitic and duplicitous clan, portrayed by a distractingly starry ensemble, including Chris Evans as a douchebag (aka Captain A-hole with the nice sweater).
The twisty procedural isn’t just an Agatha Christie ode but also a study on white privilege, social class and prejudice. (One recurring joke: the family is constantly bickering over where Ana de Armas’ dedicated Ecuadorian caregiver hails from.)
Craig is the MVP: he’s clearly enjoying his day off as James Bond, goofing around with his Deep South accent. (His drunkard Southern drawl in Lucky Logan was a dry run.) His Blanc is a guy who only loves his job but also the sound of his own voice.
When Craig is done with Bond next year, he should consider the great detective as his next franchise. Blanc, Benoit Blanc. It does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it? (***1/2)