He’s already a top spy serving on her majesty’s secret service. But later this year, James Bond star Daniel Craig will try to combat crime while stepping into a totally different role in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery, KNIVES OUT.
The suspenseful whodunit held its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, with AMC in the audience to get a first look at the star-studded affair. And while every member of the cast gets ideal moments to shine, it was 007 himself who quite literally stole the show.
KNIVES OUT largely takes place in a massive New England mansion, where a celebrated author of murder mysteries, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), turns up dead. The local police rule it a suicide, but eccentric private investigator Benoit Blanc (Craig) isn’t convinced. He suspects foul play, and the Thrombey family provides him a stable of suspicious characters, all with sufficient motivations to want Harlan dead.
Structured like an Agatha Christie novel, KNIVES OUT plays everything with a slight exaggeration. The Thrombey’s are sinisterly wicked people, but still realistic and never comically silly.
Writer/director Rian Johnson has recruited a stellar ensemble to play the potential murderers in KNIVES OUT, so audiences are treated to riotous scenes when Jamie Lee Curtis or Michael Shannon get to play off of Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield and Chris Evans.
But the wild card is Daniel Craig’s fabulously named Benoit Blanc, doing a Southern version of Christie’s famed detective Hercules Poirot. The British Craig affects an obvious Southern accent that’s far more Foghorn Leghorn than it is James Bond, and his persona disarms the people he’s investigating because they all but dismiss him as an idiot, not knowing just how smart Blanc actually is.
It helps that Rian Johnson gives Benoit Blanc most of the best monologues, and also the best scenes, as almost every great detective should have in a murder mystery. There are moments when we want the private investigator to get ahead of the case, and KNIVES OUT has plenty of surprises up its sleeve, giving Craig the chance to react to fantastic twists that also keep the audience guessing.
It’s a struggle for Daniel Craig to escape from the shadow of James Bond. Playing 007 is a blessing, but it’s then easy for an actor to be typecast as the top spy. So, seeing him easily steal scenes from incredible co-stars in KNIVES OUT reminds us of his talents and why he became a silver-screen star in the first place.
You can see Daniel Craig matching wits with a family of possible killers when Rian Johnson’s KNIVES OUT drops into theatres on November 27.