December 24, 2022 – Rian Johnson's follow up to his great comedy murder mystery “Knives Out” (2019) is not quite as good this time around, but it has its share of comedy, and funny, twisted characters, led by the inimitable detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, reprising his role) a man for all mysteries.
While the first Knives Out mystery was somewhat believable, this one, bordering on science fiction. I am unwilling to suspend my disbelief enough to swallow this plot. In this mystery, Blanc, the great detective, finds himself on a remote Greek island owned by iconic billionaire Miles Bron (played by Edward Norton of “Fight Club”) who promises a fun-filled weekend with a murder mystery theme.
Blanc, however, was not invited to the party, but the mystery of this appearance, along with other mysteries, are eventually explained in flashback scenes, which I won't reveal here so as not to spoil the surprise for those who have not yet seen the movie. Another unexpected guest at the party is Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe of “Hidden Figures”).
Brand is a co-founder of the company which made Bron a billionaire, but he managed to remove her from the company in a tricky legal maneuver (apparently similar to one used by Mark Zuckerberg against one of his friends in the early days of Facebook). While she was invited to the party, her presence is a surprise to most guests and a total shock to one person in particular.
The elaborate murder mystery staged by Bron is immediately solved by Blanc, much to Bron's dismay. Blanc warns Bron that his party is a death trap. He says, “You've taken seven people, each of whom has a real-life reason to wish you harm, gathered them together on a remote island, and placed the idea of your murder in their heads. It's like putting a loaded gun on the table and turning off the lights!”
Eventually, as expected, there is a murder. While looking for the killer, another guest is shot by an unseen gunman. The killer must be among the few people left on the island, sort of like “Ten Little Indians.”
This where the flashback scenes start, and the flashbacks provide a major twist on the killer party. Through these scenes, we discover the real reason that Blanc and Brand are at the party. Nothing that went before was really as it seemed. The real murder that brought Blanc and Brand to the party is one that happened long before the party started.
The other guests at the party are all famous people who depend entirely on Bron for their livelihoods, and who have all been morally compromised by him. Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn of “Bad Moms”) is a governor backed by Bron who is running for the U.S. Senate. In return, she has greenlighted permits for Bron's big energy project.
Birdy Jay (Kate Hudson of “Deepwater Horizon”) is a fashion designer, whose brands are secretly supported by Bron, and whose politically incorrect gaffs are fixed by him. Duke Cody (Dave Bautista of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies) whose social media influencer career is secretly supported by Bron. Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr. of “Hamilton”) is Bron's head scientist, a man with real ability.
All of these guests, whose careers are intertwined with that of Bron's, share a big secret which explains why Bron is supporting them. They all have something on Bron, and he has something on them too. But Bron and all of them would be brought low if the secrets are revealed.
Bron and most of his guests who share these secrets are scoundrels. This would be fine if they were at least interesting scoundrels, but they are all pretty bland, and shallow. Fortunately, the movie does have a couple of interesting characters, including Blanc. Motives are given for the murders, but the motives aren't convincing. A reason is given for the police not showing up when the murder is reported, but it is a stupid reason.
The ending of the film is bizarre, spectacular and also unconvincing. The case is solved by Blanc, of course, but justice is served in a very unconventional, and unconvincing way. It is an entertaining and amusing movie, but a step down from its immediate predecessor. It rates a B.
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