Quick synopsis: Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc is put on the case.
I’m a massive fan of Knives Out, it was my favourite film of 2019, by quite a long way. So I had high hopes for this. It did receive a small cinema release, and I was hoping it would be showing at my local. Sadly, that was not the case. It’s a shame as I don’t just want to watch this, I want to be in the room as others are watching. I want to hear reactions to this. This is a film that inspires reaction. The twists and turns, the dialogue, the revelations, they’re made to get audible reactions from the audience. This definitely has an audience too, and the film knows this. It knows people are going into it with certain expectations, and it plays on that. It does have to be commended for the fact that watching the first one isn’t necessary. That’s kind of the case for some other films as well, but they are not as stand-alone as these are. It’s refreshing that as more Benoit Blanc films get made, people will be able to watch them in any order and not feel lost.
One thing you do get from having previously watched the first one is a slight expectation of what you’re going to get: a murder mystery with an ensemble cast which will amaze you. That’s definitely the case here. The cast here easily matches the cast of the first one in terms of known names and new performers, with not a single weak link. This also has some good cameos; the first one only really had Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a detective in a TV show, this one not only has Gordon-Levitt (this time credited as Hourly Dong), but also Hugh Grant and Ethan Hawke in quick scenes (Hawke’s in particular is a real “Blink and you’ll miss it”). The solid reputation of the first one allowed Johnson to land some names to play themselves: Yo-Yo Ma and Serena Williams are probably the biggest, (the fact that they don’t signpost who Yo-Yo Ma is is pretty clever too, he just appears, gives an answer to a puzzle without introducing himself, then leaves). Sadly it also has Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury, who passed away before the film was released. Lansbury is particularly heartbreaking because there’s so much potential in a universe where Lansbury is friends with a well-known private investigator.
The main cast we do have is superb, everybody is great. Kate Hudson is barely recognisable as fashion designer Birdie Jay, it would be nice if Leslie Odom Jr was given more to do but in a stacked story like this, it’s inevitable that some will feel shortchanged. Jackie Hoffman is only in one scene but absolutely steals it. The real star of the show is Janelle Monae. I’m more familiar with her as a musician (Screwed is an AMAZING song), I have seen her in a few things (Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and the rather disappointing Antebellum). She’s given a lot more to do in this than she has previously, and pulls it off wonderfully. Edward Norton is wonderfully annoying, and you can tell he was having a blast making this. Daniel Craig’s accent is still a bit strange. But he’s committed to it now so I suppose it’s worth it to get more of these films.
The story is so damn fun. After a run of “the plot is pretty basic” films, it’s nice to have something like this. Something with genuine surprises that make you pay attention.
Unless you’re cuntservative columnist Ben Shapiro, then you criticise a murder mystery film for daring to mislead the audience, like a fucking moron. With the exception of him, reaction to this has been mostly positive, with a lot of people saying it might be better than the first one. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it’s definitely closer than most sequels to matching the quality of the original. Once more time has passed I think I may end up preferring this one, it had better dialogue, a more unique look, and is a lot more fun. Well worth a watch, I couldn’t think of a better way to end 2022.