So Netflix has kept pushing this show as a recommended watch. I honestly hadn’t planned on watching it. It wasn’t that it didn’t look good. I just wasn’t in the mood to watch anything too heavy that required much brainpower, given that I have been overexhausted the past few months and I just wanted fluff that I can laugh at and move past.
But the trailer looked exciting and it was a star-studded cast, and eventually I decided to play it, planning to just leave it running in the background while I did my work and my chores.
That didn’t happen, of course. The show was actually quite gripping, and demanded so much of my attention that it made me forget to do my work and chores.
***WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD***
Don’t read beyond this point if you have not watched this show, and you plan to!
The movie starts with the discovery of the dead body, Harlan Thrombey (played by the late inimitable Christopher Plummer), who was the patriarch and the source of money of a very wealthy family.
The members of the family are introduced to us one at a time through a series of interviews with police detectives who were there to do additional questioning.
Present in the room as well was a private detective, Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig), who was hired to investigate the death of Harlan Thrombey, but admitted that he did not know who his client was as all he had received was an envelope of cash and instructions.
His death had already been ruled as suicide by the police, but due to his anonymous client, Blanc believed that there was more to the case.
We find out that the night before Thrombey’s death, all family members were there for his 85th birthday party. Throughout the night, various family members faced confrontations with the old man – his son-in-law Richard (Don Johnson) was threatened with exposure about his affair, his daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Colette) was going to be cut off for stealing his money, his son Walt (Michael Shannon) was fired from his publishing company, and his grandson Ransom (Chris Evans) was going to be cut out of his will completely.
Early on in the film, we find out that Thrombey was accidentally given a lethal dose of medication by his nurse Marta Carbrera (Ana de Armas), who apparently had mixed up the bottles in her medical kit. The antidote was missing from her kit however, leaving him only 10 minutes before certain death. Harlan stops her from calling for help, and instead gave her specific instructions on creating an alibi for herself. Wanting to protect her and her family as her mother was an undocumented immigrant, and using his expertise as a best-selling murder mystery author, his instructions included for her to leave in a visible manner while calling attention to the time she was leaving, and to return to the mansion unseen and dress up as him to make it seem that his time of death was much later.
However, Marta has a problem. She has an unusual condition: she is incapable of telling a lie. Everytime she tells a lie, she will throw up. So Harlan tells her not to lie, but instead to tell parts of the truth.
Marta was reluctant to follow his instructions, but was unable to stop him from slitting his own throat, forcing her to do everything that he told her to do.
So, it seems we already knew everything that has happened, right? Then why was there still another hour and half on the show? Obviously there was more than meets the eye. The biggest question was obviously: who hired Blanc?
The story continues with Blanc doing further investigating, taking Marta with him. As she walks around the grounds with him, she destroys possible evidence of her role in that fateful night.
When the will was read, it was found that Harlan had left the entirety of his fortune to Marta.
In shock and under harassment by the family members, Marta fled the house, jumping into Ransom’s car when her own car wouldn’t start. Ransom tricked her into confessing, by feeding her a full lunch while fully knowing of her unusual vomit-lie condition. He told her to continue with the cover-up, and that he would help her, provided that she gives him his cut of the inheritance.
The movie goes on with Marta receiving a blackmail note with the header of a toxicology report, and when she shows up at the location, she finds the housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) drugged. Fran regains consciousness enough to stutter a few sentences before passing out, to which Marta tries to save her with CPR while calling 911.
Marta goes back to the house with Blanc; and unable to keep everything on her conscience, she gave him a full confession, although that would invalidate her claim to the inheritance under the “slayer rule”, which disallows murderers (whether intentional or otherwise) from inheriting. Her confession was not news, as Ransom had already told the police everything that Marta had told him.
When they reached the house, Marta suddenly was able to piece together Fran’s disjointed words, and found a copy of the toxicology report in Fran’s stash of weed. She hands the report to Blanc without reading it.
Just as Marta was about to confess to the family, Blanc who had just opened the toxicology report, stops her and instead yells at the family, telling them they had mistreated her and that she would keep everything. He then pulls her into another room and told the police officers to get everyone out of the house except one – Ransom.
Blanc then reveals his deductions, telling it in a question and answer form – obviously for us watching the movie – pointing out the parts that did not make sense to him, and revealing what he figured out.
And then… fanfare please! He explains how he had deduced it was Ransom who set up the whole thing.
Ransom had switched the labels on the drug vials in Marta’s medical kit and removed the antidote, and he was the one who hired Blanc to investigate. After all, why would someone hire a private detective unless he knew something would be discovered?
As for the blackmail, Fran was actually blackmailing Ransom, but he forwarded the note to Marta. He had met up with Fran at the location earlier, and had drugged her with an overdose.
It was also revealed that Marta had not given Harlan the wrong medication. She did not read the vials until after she had administered the drug, because as an experienced nurse, just by looking at the liquids, she knew which was which. Had Harlan agree to wait fo the ambulance and not slit his own throat, he would have been alive.
Marta tricks Ransom into admitting that he attempted to murder Fran, and then she throws up on him, revealing that Fran had died and he had now confessed to murder. Furious, he grabs a dagger off Harlan’s wall of knives and attacks her, but it turned out to be a stage prop.
And as the family members watch Ransom being marched into the police car, Marta stands at the balcony of her mansion, holding a cup with the words “My House My Rules My Coffee”.
Overall, it was highly enjoyable, with something new revealed at every scene to keep you glued to the screen. The pace of the movie is good, without moving too fast that you can’t follow the story, and not too high-brow that you can’t understand.
There was enough suspense to keep you watching, and even if you could figure out what really happened, you would still want to watch just to find out the reveal.
Are there plot holes? Of course there are! The glaring plot holes are the medical plot holes – for instance, at the beginning when Marta had injected Harlan with 100mg of morphine, she said he would be dead in 10 minutes without the Naxoprone antidote (I don’t know if this is true or not). But taking this as movie fact, later when Marta discovers Fran in the abandoned laundromat, Fran dies under Marta’s watch, apparently having been given a lethal dose of morphine. This meant that Ransom had administered it 10 minutes ago, but it was revealed later that he had met Fran 2 hours earlier.
So how does this make sense? I also do not know.
But other than that, for the most part, the comings and goings and the dastardly deeds of Ransom in the murder attempt of his grandfather seemed to be pretty much spoken for.
It is quite refreshing to see Captain America in a non-goody-two-shoes role (yes I have seen him in other bad-boy roles), and he plays the villain here quite well. When he steps into the scene, he is not very likeable and it just feels that he cannot be trusted. Truly fantastic acting! Not just by Chris Evans, byt by everyone in this movie.
Definitely highly recommended, whether you are a mystery movie buff or you just need something good to take up 2 hours of your life.
Knives Out is currently available for viewing on Netflix.