This November, director Rian Johnson is looking to take a stab at the classic ‘whodunit’ mystery with his latest film “Knives Out.” Johnson is quickly becoming one of the most inventive storytellers in recent memory. The filmmaker has a limited, but impressive television and film resume, but has lent his directing skills to three prominent series, one of which was AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” He only directed a total of three episodes of the series, directing the episode “Ozymandias,” often hailed as the series’ best.
Johnson’s film work began quietly with 2005’s “Brick” and 2008’s “The Brothers Bloom.” It was in 2012, however, that his name began to gather traction with the release of “Looper.” This unique spin on the sci-fi time travel subgenre was lauded by critics and earned Johnson a National Board of Review Award for Best Original Screenplay. With his career riding high, Johnson was tapped to write and direct the second installment of the recent “Star Wars” trilogy. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” would become the ninth highest-grossing film of all time.
With the film industry at his feet, Johnson has a world of options going forward. But Johnson has chosen to follow up his exploration into space with a look at an eccentric family in the thralls of mystery. “Knives Out” tells the story of a wacky group of relatives who come together to celebrate the birthday of their patriarch. At the party, the patriarch mysterious passes away, and a detective and trooper come to investigate. Meanwhile, all the potential suspects are on house arrest and, naturally, chaos ensues.
Johnson’s impressive rise and talent for telling innovative stories has caught the eye of some of the industry’s biggest stars. The casting for “Knives Out” is an absolute marvel. The production has managed to gather a group of actors who have quite the collective resume all their own. Action stars Daniel Craig (of Bond fame) and Chris Evans (i.e. Captain America) seem to be looking to shed their alter egos. This is their moment to let audiences know that they are capable of much more than donning a suit (whether tux or spandex).
Up-and-comers Lakeith Stanfeild (2017’s “Get Out” and 2018’s “Sorry To Bother You“), Ana de Armas (2017’s “Blade Runner 2049”) and Katherine Langford (Netflix‘s “13 Reasons Why”) continue to shine. Each is demonstrating the ability to make wise choices in an industry ripe with mediocrity. Jamie Lee Curtis (“Halloween“) and Don Johnson (NBC’s “Miami Vice”) have been active in this business since the 1980s, with no signs of slowing down. Their works prove that age and pace have nothing to do with the other.
Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer (1965’s “The Sound of Music” and 2010’s “Beginners”), and Academy Award nominees Toni Collette (1999’s “The Sixth Sense”) and Michael Shannon (2016’s “Nocturnal Animals”) round out the cast. These names alone add significant weight to this project. But this cast as a whole is enough to make audiences revel in anticipation.
Based off of the recently released trailer, the plot for “Knives Out” seems inspired by the likes of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” or Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” These stories revolve around a central mystery but are ultimately character studies. Thrust into the characters’ world, the audience bares witness to their personalities, hopes, grievances and interconnections. The ensembles’ eccentricities peak the audiences’ interest, making it impossible to look away. And when there is a mystery to solve, the more eyes on the suspects the better.