Knives Out (2019) – Review, Summary (with Spoilers)

While a tad long, in order to pack in as many twists and turns as possible, Knives Out ultimately is one of the best mystery films you’ve seen in a long time and will see in a long time.

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While a tad long, in order to pack in as many twists and turns as possible, Knives Out ultimately is one of the best mystery films you’ve seen in a long time and will see in a long time.

Directed By Rian Johnson
Written By Rian Johnson
Date Released (Theatrical – Early Public Viewing) 11/22/2019
Genre(s) Mystery, Drama, Comedy
Noted Cast
Harlan Christopher Plummer
Linda Jamie Lee Curtis
Richard Don Johnson
Walt Michael Shannon
Hugh Ransom Chris Evans
Benoit Blanc Daniel Craig
Wanetta K Callan
Donna Riki Lindhome
Marta Ana de Armas
Meg Katherine Langford
Jacob Jaeden Martell
Fran Edi Patterson
Joni Toni Collette

Plot Summary/ Review

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Harlan Thrombey, a self-made man who, after writing countless mystery novels, at least two a year as of his 85th birthday, made enough money to afford a gargantuan house, a multitude of land surrounding it, as well as have the ability to finance the lives of his children, grandchildren, and even a daughter in law who technically hasn’t been related to him in years. As you can imagine, getting to Harlan’s age not only makes you think about your mortality but the way you want to live your final years. Which for Harlan, someone who always liked a sense of control and people playing by his rules, meant he was going to get one over on his family.

However, rather than wait until after he was dead to drop the axe, he does that in life. Leading to, after his death, an investigation that leads to his daughter Linda, her husband Richard, Linda’s brother Walt, Richard and Linda’s son Ransom, as well as many more being questioned. For while Harlan’s death seems like an easy case, as renowned private investigation Benoit Blanc gets involved, and sees the case as a donut, it becomes anything but.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Why wasn’t Walt’s wife, Donna, questioned at all?
  2. All things considered, if Harlan was 85, and his mother was alive, who was taking care of her if Marta solely monitored Harlan and Fran, the other person who worked the house, seemingly didn’t bother much with Wanetta?


You Learn To Appreciate The Twists & Turns

There are two major twists in the film, which is part of the reason why, below, the film feels long. However, thanks to the talented cast, masterfully brought together, as you come to the point of feeling you’ve seen one movie end and then another one begin, while there is a bit of a slow period for things to pick up, when you get to the true finale, and all is revealed, while your jaw won’t drop, you will appreciate the ride you just went on.

The Humor

What Knives Out shows is the way you can make your film two hours and keep it relatively lively: Add humor. Now, again praising the cast, and Johnson’s writing, nearly everyone either gets to have a funny moment or be the butt of a joke. Be it jokes about Jacob possibly masturbating in the bathroom to dead deer, Marta repeatedly vomiting, Joni being this very eccentric woman, or just everyone getting at least one good line.

This is what helps that transition from the reveal of mystery one into mystery two. For those jolts of jokes act as a major distraction to keep you from wanting to check your phone to see how much longer this film is.

On The Fence

There Will Be Times When You Think The Film Should Wrap Up

While we tried to make light of the time length, let’s get serious right now. What you have here is two incomplete movies mashed up until one. If not, two movies that could have roughly been an hour, which you know no film nowadays wants to be, being placed together. With that, you have to deal with the film, after the first reveal is handled, taking its time to start up a new plot. Which, again, is aided by the comedy and cast, but if you don’t find these characters humorous, or find these actors charismatic, you might feel like this movie is too damn long and not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.

I Wouldn’t Say There Is A Huge Amount Of Effort To Point You In Anyone’s Direction

Despite a rather decent-sized cast, they don’t equally get focused on to keep you guessing. In fact, as we get into the second half, a lot of the cast may still be around, but they barely play a role. To name names, Katherine Langford and Jaeden Martell? After a certain point, they exist, but you can tell the investment isn’t there. Hell, Donna, Walt’s wife, you’ll forget who she is and may sometimes wonder if she is someone who helps keep the house up.

Those aren’t the only people, but we’re not giving the ending away (at least on this page). But, the point is, after a certain point, there is a clear funnel which pushes you to focus on very few people in terms of the second mystery presented.


Met Expectations

This definitely exceeded expectations Between the utilization of the cast, two quality mysteries, even if they made the film a bit long, this was definitely better than expected.

Would Watch Again?

I’d definitely push people to see it, but, like most mystery films, once you know the truth, it loses its appeal quick.

Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Increasingly, 2-hour movies are expanding past dramas seeking awards, and generally they don’t justify being that long. Knives Out is an exception. For while you can see many ways this could be shorter, and one could submit some members of the cast are expendable, it is a very enjoyable film to watch. One that you’ll want to see before someone, even if in praise, gives a significant enough hint to take away from the mystery.

What Would Your Rating Be?

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Knives Out (2019) Ending Explained, Recapped and Spoiled

So, mystery #1 is whether or not Harlan’s death was a murder. The answer is, initially, it was an accidental murder he covered up to look like a suicide. Long story short, Harlan was taking morphine and another drug to help with the ails of getting older. His nurse, Marta, was responsible for monitoring his medicine and administering it. However, she accidentally gave him a deadly level of morphine rather than the dosage he was supposed to get. Add in her, not having something to counteract the morphine, things were looking bad.

But, because Marta has the habit of vomiting if she tries to lie, Harlan knew she didn’t try it kill him, so he made an elaborate plan to make his death look like a suicide. Problem is, when Benoit Blanc was called in, he unraveled that plan and what originally looked like an accidental murder.

The truth is, Hugh Ransom Drysdale swapped his grandfather’s medicine, took what could have saved his life, and did his best to cover his tracks. Then, as things got complicated with the suicide and Marta being willing to turn herself in, even as people threatened to out her mom was undocumented and so much more, he kept looking for ways to make it so, in the end, he’d win.

For, you see, Harlan was in the process of cutting everyone off, and while Linda had her own business, which was shared with Richard, Walt worked for his dad, and the kids were in school, Hugh never worked a day in his life. So for him, being cut off while Harlan was alive and not inheriting anything when he died? Well, what better motive could you have for killing someone?


However, while the plan was for Marta to accidentally kill Harlan, and the family to either throw her under the bus or forgive her, that didn’t happen. Marta, due to her skills as a nurse, actually didn’t cause Harlan to overdose which makes it so his death remains a suicide. But, even with the toxicology report proving that, so comes the issue of Harlan giving away everything to Marta.

With that in mind, Hugh tried to get her to confess to murder, but Fran getting the toxicology report ruined that, so he tried to kill her and set up Marta to look like the killer. Problem is, she instead calls 911, and Fran is rushed to the hospital. Meanwhile, as this happens, Benoit is filled in the blackmail that is going on, among other things, and comes to realize what is the missing part in all this and comes to Hugh.

Someone who, originally, is smart enough not to confess anything. But, when it is said Fran lived, that means there is a witness, and so Hugh goes to kill Marta as a last-ditch effort to get his inheritance. Thing is, while the knife Harlan killed himself with was real, the knives in the chair you see in the trailer, those are all fake. So, Marta ends up having him confess to a murder, for Fran dies after he forces her to OD, and with Hugh attempting to murder Marta in front of the cops, he goes down.

As for the rest of the family? Well, Linda has a full-on business, so she should be fine, even though a divorce might be pending as she learns Richard is having an affair. In terms of the rest? Well, Walt and his family are bound to struggle since he threatened Marta, Joni coerced Meg to reveal Marta’s mother was undocumented, so screw her too, and while Meg did do a bad thing, and has been in college for what seems like forever, Marta seemingly will help her finish. As for anything beyond that? Well, that’s hard to say.

Thus, even in death, mystery writer Harlan Thrombey finds himself as an author of a grand mystery. Well, co-author, but still very much the architect.

Is A Sequel Possible?

Oh, god no.

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  1. Was Walt being in a boot a purposeful thing or was the actor (Michael Shannon) wearing the boot due to an injury?

    1. Walt being in a boot wasn’t used for much plot-wise. Though one could say his handicap was partly to show age as well as show a sense of dependency. I’d even submit everyone’s personality is based on how dependent they were on the patriarch and how comfortable they were about it.

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