***½/**** Image A Sound A- Extras B+
starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer
written and directed by Rian Johnson
by Bryant Frazer Knives Out, a cleverly plotted and star-studded whodunit, is both comfortingly familiar and surprisingly novel--a loving homage to classic English drawing-room mysteries that celebrates its sources while updating their assumptions about class and politics. It might seem strange that, having scaled the filmmaking Everest that is a Star Wars movie with The Last Jedi, writer-director Rian Johnson would immediately retreat into the comfort of an Agatha Christie pastiche. But Knives Out plays directly to Johnson's strengths: his knack for putting a new spin on old tropes and clichés, his facility with actors, and his apparent capacity for empathy. It's a comedy of manners with a marvellously dry wit, exceptionally broad appeal, and a satisfyingly complex (though not convoluted) narrative. No wonder this thing made bank at the box office.