This delightful, hilarious, clever mystery-comedy is total entertainment, with expert, precision work at every level -- but also with an irresistible, gleeful sense of fun bursting from the screen. After taking Star Wars to a new level with The Last Jedi, writer-director Rian Johnson seems fully refreshed on Knives Out, keeping his feet on the ground and staying mostly in one beautiful location. From the ground up, he's crafted a solid moviegoing experience, starting with a sparkling gem of a screenplay. An Agatha Christie-inspired tale, the movie's mystery is airtight enough to puzzle most whodunit buffs.
But the movie is also beautifully balanced among its excellent cast, with each member feeling appealingly human and shining in individual moments. Visually, Knives Out is splendid, fluid in the way it moves around the nooks and crannies of the huge house and also when it lingers on its unforgettable "wheel of knives" centerpiece. The music by Nathan Johnson (Rian's cousin) is equally effective. Old-fashioned on the surface, the movie is nevertheless rooted in the modern-day, with several smart, sane references to current insanity. Finally, it's clearly designed for multiple viewings, not only to catch all the sly jokes but also the many concealed clues. If Knives Out has a flaw, it's that the movie is so effortless it might feel lightweight.