For his first return to filmmaking since helming the eighth installment in the Star Wars franchise, the 2018 entry, The Last Jedi, filmmaker Rian Johnson has opted to return to the type of endeavor that put him on the map. The new film, Knives Out, showcases Johnson’s strengths as both a writer and a director as evidenced in such earlier fare as Brick and Looper and serves to remind what gifts he possesses when given the right canvas from which to work. Here he’s opted to dish out a murder mystery in the style of the best Agatha Christie novels and it’s a film that constantly surprises. Even more impressive is the fact that Johnson is able to bring something fresh to the well-worn genre by working in some social commentary and serving up the whole dish with healthy dollops of humor.

Daniel Craig and Katherine Langford in Knives Out

Harlan Thromeby (Christopher Plummer) is a successful crime novelist of note who’s found dead and apparently by his own hand. Or was it really a suicide? The assorted members of Harlan’s family, delightfully embodied by such formidable talents as Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon and Don Johnson, assemble to discover what the old man may have left them in his will and whether or not he died by his own hand. It’s during this occasion that secrets are revealed while a subplot unfolds that revolves around Harlan’s personal caretaker, Cabrera (Ana de Armas). All the while a private investigator (Daniel Craig) attempts to unravel the tangled web of it all. Knives Out manages to weave all of this material together in way that totally satisfies those who love a good mystery. And, really, who doesn’t?

Knives Out is playing in Hickory.

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