By Ashton Samson
Everyone’s a suspect in Rian Johnson's new brilliant mystery, Knives Out. Most of them are of the usual type, all of them could be liable for the murder of affluent mystery writer, Harlan Thrombey. As it starts, the film feels like something out of an Agatha Christie novel. Even as the film races through its energetic and riotous opening montage, I was uncertain of how Johnson was going to pull off a decent homage to the mystery/suspense genre, especially since it's been years since a truly good flick of that sort has been released.
As Knives Out progressed, continuing it's impressive handling of the diversity of well-chosen actors, all while maintaining a fresh and rejuvenated pace for the genre, it became clear that this wasn't going to be a straightforward mystery. The way that Johnson put a fresh spin on a nearly lost genre is by adding political undertones and stereotypical characters for a modern age, all seen through the eyes of Marta Cabrera, Harlan’s caretaker, played superbly by Ana de Armas.
Johnson altered the traditional Agatha Christie format, by revealing the murderer earlier in the story. The significance of this? It's not about the mystery as much anymore. It's about Harlan's complete disdain and disgust for the greedy and self-centered behavior of his family members amidst the backdrop of the kind and compassionate Marta.
From the beginning, I latched on to Marta as a character, because I had a feeling that she would bring something greater to the themes of Knives Out. In a lavish house filled to the rim with the usual old-school suspects of rich, pretentious people, Marta was the standout, because she provided an opposing perspective. Johnson used this film as a platform for social commentary regarding the issues of immigration and the power of women.