Daniel Craig in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. Photograph: Claire Folger/AP
The writer-director Rian Johnson recently interrupted a promising career focusing on genre-twisting, intelligent films such as Brick and Looper to bring the world The Last Jedi. It divided opinion upon release, and subsequently, with its defenders praising it as a socially conscious, woke and irreverent take on the Star Wars universe, and others panning it for the same reasons.
For what it’s worth, I hated The Last Jedi beyond comprehension for its arrogance and smugness, and it has joined a small circle of hell in which similar follies like I Heart Huckabees and Ocean’s Twelve reside. But Johnson has now returned to the smaller films that made his name, albeit with a starry cast, in his post-modern take on Agatha Christie murder mysteries, Knives Out.
Does it pass muster? Thankfully, it does, with some flair and aplomb. Although the heart initially sinks when Johnson appears in a filmed introduction, asking the audience not to give the whodunit aspect away, the picture engages pretty much from the off.