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MOVIE REVIEW

Knives Out

also known as “À couteaux tirés,” “Cena con delitto - Knives Out,” “Entre Facas e Segredos,” “Entre navajas y secretos,” “Ke Dam Len,” “Knives Out - Ein Mord zum Dessert,” See more »
MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive to Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Crime Mystery Dark-Comedy
Length:
2 hr. 10 min.
Year of Release:
2019
USA Release:
September 7, 2019 (festival)
November 27, 2019 (wide release)
Copyright, Lionsgate click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate
Relevant Issues

Wealthy crime novelists

85th birthday party held in hopes of reuniting a DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY

Copyright, Lionsgate

Family relationships

Motives for murder

Continual use of profane and vulgar language

Illegal entry into a country

Last will and testament

About death

About lying

The sin of greed

ADULTERY and FORNICATION in the Bible

About the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Answer

Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate
Featuring: Daniel CraigDetective Benoit Blanc
Ana de ArmasMarta Cabrera—Harlan’s nurse and caretaker
Christopher PlummerHarlan Thrombey
K CallanWanetta “Great Nana” Thrombey—Harlan’s mother
Michael ShannonWalter “Walt” Thrombey—Harlan’s youngest son
Riki LindhomeDonna Thrombey—Harlan’s daughter-in-law and Walt’s wife
Toni ColletteJoni Thrombey—Harlan’s daughter-in-law
Katherine LangfordMegan “Meg” Thrombey—Harlan’s granddaughter, Joni and Neil’s daughter
Jaeden MartellJacob Thrombey—Harlan’s grandson, Walt and Donna’s son
Jamie Lee CurtisLinda Drysdale—Harlan’s eldest daughter and Richard’s wife
Don JohnsonRichard Drysdale—Harlan’s son-in-law and Linda’s husband
Chris EvansHugh “Ransom” Drysdale—Harlan’s grandson, Linda and Richard's son
LaKeith StanfieldLieutenant Elliott
Edi PattersonFran
Frank OzAlan Stevens—attorney
M. Emmet WalshMr. Proofroc
See all »
Director: Rian Johnson—“Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi” (2017), “Looper” (2012), “Brick” (2005)
Producer: Lionsgate
Media Rights Capital (MRC)
T-Street
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Trademark logo.
Lions Gate entertainment Corp. (Lionsgate)
Copyright, Lionsgate

Happy Birthday Harlan! Famed mystery writer Harlan Thrombley is turning 85 this year! And what better way for him to spend his birthday than with his family at his mansion in Massachusets.

The next morning, however, the family awakes to a startling revelation… Harlan is dead. The police state that he killed himself in his study, but no one really quite knows the reason why. So obviously the police start questioning the members of the family. There’s Walter Thrombley, in charge of all the management and decision making on behalf of Harlan’s publishing company. There’s Meg Thrombley, Harlan’s granddaughter. Then there’s Jacob Thrombley, who everyone says is the odd one in the family, so maybe he had something to do with Harlan killing himself. The list continues: Joni, the daughter-in-law, Linda, and the one who is ALWAYS either fashionably late or absent entirely, Hugh Drysdale. And then there’s Marta, Harlan’s nurse, but really, she’s couldn’t harm a fly. Phew!

As the police, and private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), question everyone, Blanc states that the family’s stories just don’t add up. He declares that someone knows exactly what happened to Harlan and that Harlan’s death was NOT a suicide, but, in fact, a murder.

With everyone’s suspicions raised and tensions rising, it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks, and when they do, there’s no telling what might happen.

The game is afoot!

Truth be told, I had been anticipating “Knives Out” for quite some time now. The last murder mystery film I reviewed, a couple years back, was “Murder on the Orient Express.” Like “Knives Out,” “Murder on the Orient Express” also included an all-star cast (Johnny Depp, Williem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Judi Dench, to name a few) which provided strength to the story-telling. While “Murder on the Orient Express” was, indeed, a brilliant film, the plot was far too complicated, and the pacing moved too quickly to keep up with what was going on in the story, which detracted from my overall appreciation of the film.

I say all of this because “Knives Out” does what “Murder on the Orient Express” did not. It eliminated the confusion, while maintaining the quality of filmmaking. I did not, at any time, feel the pacing was lethargic or tedious. Initially, I feared that with number of characters in the Thrombley family (10 excluding Harlan, the nurse Marta and the Grandmother I failed to mention), and their backstories and interactions with Harlan prior to his death would overwhelm the plot. While this is the case for about the first 20 minutes or so, the stories of each of the characters start to align with the film better, and the confusion evaporated.

This film is not flawless. There are two relatively major issues: language and politics.

The language is abrasive, crass, and pretty much all unnecessary, especially the sexual dialog. There are political conversations (and some innuendos) that attack those who support legal immigration. In my view, it is very apparent that the film mocks those who support legal immigration and legal immigration enforcement. One conversation even occurs between family members regarding Marta and her mother’s immigration status and how they could deport her because they came into the country illegally, even though they always treated her like family (to state anymore about the conversation would give away major spoilers). Every time I heard another political conversation I couldn’t help but let out an, “Uggg” under my breath. I’ve ranted about this before, but I’ll say it once again… Hollywood, keep politics out of the movies. This film didn’t need it.

Objectionable Material

Violence: Moderately Heavy. Harlan is shown deceased with his throat sliced open (not a spoiler). A character is given a lethal injection. A character is seen slicing their own throat. We see a statue of a boy with a decapitated head in his hand. A family is threatened with deportation if they don’t cooperate. There is a scene where a building is on fire (we see the same building on fire in a later scene). Someone is seen asphyxiating on methamphetamines. Someone suffocates on chloroform, and is injected with morphine. Someone attempts to stab someone.

Profanity: Very Heavy— “J*sus” (6), “G*d-d*mn” (7), “Oh L*rd,” OMG (4), “For God’s sake,” “My G*d,” “Oh G*d,” “H*ly sh*t!”, “H*ll” (6), “d*mn” (5)

Vulgarity/Crude Conversations: “F**k” (2), “pr*ck” (1), “boning,” “boinking” (1), “having sex with my grandpa,” “Nazi child masturbating in the bathroom,” an obscene gesture, “sh*t” (24), “eat sh*t” (6), “that vile sh*t,” “dip-sh*t,” “sh*t-talking,” “bullsh*t,” “a**hole” (9), “a**” (4), “b*tch” (3), SOB (2), “b*stard”

Other questionable and inappropriate conversations include discussions about how people are murdered, calling someone “the help” based on the color of their skin and their ethnic heritage, two conversations about marijuana, and the phrase “up your a**” being used.

Sex/Sexual Dialog: Moderately Heavy. There are two incredibly inappropriate conversations about a young girl having sex with Harlan. A man is pictured kissing another woman (he is cheating on his wife). There is also an inappropriate discussion about a young boy self-pleasuring (he is later seen on the toilet with a magazine).

Alcohol: There are multiple scenes where characters are seen drinking (at parties, by themselves, etc.).

Drugs: Characters are seen smoking marijuana in one scene (brief). There are several scenes in which characters are seen smoking cigarettes.

Other: There are a few tasteless jokes about people of different ethnicities. This film also has a clear political message and mocks those who are for illegal immigration reform. A woman is seen meditating. A girl is seen vomiting a few times (no vomit is actually shown), but in one scene she actually vomits on someone.

Message

In the second half of the film, one of the central themes that the film focuses on is greed.

The Bible is very clear. Money is NOT the root of all evil. The LOVE of movie is the root of all evil. The love of money (greed) causes sinful thoughts to enter our hearts and minds and to guide our lives, as we never have enough and can never be fully whole, as opposed to finding fulfillment in the One who created us, Jesus Christ. Here is what Scripture tells us about Money before God:

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” -Matthew 6:24

“He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteousness shall flourish as the green leaf.” —Proverbs 11:28

Our riches, our real treasure should be what we do and believe in God’s Holy name:

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” —1 Timothy 6:17-19

Final Thoughts

If you were to set aside all the language, violence and politics, you’d have a pretty amazing film. Stellar performances, fine cinematography and plenty of humorous moments make for a very different, yet intriguing, take on the average mystery.

However, the content is still there, and that’s unfortunate because it really wasn’t needed. I hope there comes a day when Hollywood will clean up its act. I cannot recommend “Knives Out” due to the content listed. What a shame.

  • Profane language: Very Heavy
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderately Heavy
  • Sex: Moderately Heavy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Moderately Heavy
  • Violence: Moderate
  • Occult: Minor
  • Nudity: None

Learn about DISCERNMENT—wisdom in making personal entertainment decisions

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—In reference to the critic’s complaint about the inclusion of politics in this murder mystery story: the politics, as presented in this film, are less about Hollywood sticking it to its audience and more about highlighting the Thrombey family’s hypocrisy. It’s not about “liberal vs. Conservative;” it is making a point about people who hold certain views (rightly or wrongly) and yet don’t actually care about the people whom their views affect. The family members presume because they come from money and status (all due to their father’s hard work and generosity) that this makes them better than everyone else. But they are wrong. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Kaitlin, age 32 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—…my family went to see this on a crowded Thanksgiving weekend, and the movie had everything—a good mystery, a few good laughs and thick plot—very interesting. HOWEVER this was wrongly marketed. It’s marketed as a fun film for the whole family. Well about five minutes into the movie YOU find out this isn’t the case. There is profanity THROUGHOUT the movie and even some with the Lord’s name involved. However, IF you can get passed that, it’s a wonderful movie—just all together too much profanity for your average Christian to take, but if you can, it’s wondeful
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Chris, age 30 (USA)

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