Knives Out, the new murder mystery “who-dunnit” thriller from Rian Johnson, the director of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, received its wide release over Thanksgiving Day weekend. The movie has been garnering much acclaim since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. It immediately received a 100% Rotten Tomatoes critic score. The score has since dropped to 96%.
Following the screening, it immediately became clear that the movie was awash in progressive subtext and dog whistles as Twitter users started reporting on the film’s contents. To quote Legal Insurrection’s coverage from this September: “As the reactions and reviews have slowly dripped in, it’s become immensely clear that the movie is awash in “white” liberalism, eat-the-rich sentiments, white privilege sentiments, and negative references to MAGA supporters.”
To quote David Ehrlichat at Indiewire: “Knives Out is a story about people who’ve convinced themselves that being rich is their birthright; that they’re entitled to their wealth because they’ve never had to work for it. But the movie is set in a changing world that’s tearing up tradition however it can, and the film is genius in how it slowly embodies that change, taking one of the dustiest of genres and reupholstering it from the inside out.”
The movie’s total embrace by far-left members of the film-intelligentsia suggested the movie was set up to pander to the tastes of the progressive left. Whatever you believe about his controversial take on Star Wars, Rian Johnson seemed to be using the film to position himself as Hollywood’s most outspokenly progressive young director.
With Knive Out’s release and initial success this past weekend we can now see for ourselves. The movie has done quite in spite of its wokeness. It’s garnered over $41.7 million in the box office over the holiday weekend and came in second place behind Frozen II. It’s even managed to hold a very respectable 93% in Rotten Tomatoes user reviews. Considering how much of a hot commodity its director is in the aftermath of Star Wars, those are impressive numbers.
Praise aside, that doesn’t mean that Knives Out isn’t a fairly mean spirited film. It scathingly lambasts modern conservatives, Trump supporters and the wealthy elite. The movie is awash with not-so-subtle references to modern politics such as the fact that the murdered patriarch’s daughter started her own business with a small $1 million dollar loan from her father. An entire subplot in the film hinges dramatically on the fact that we know an important character has an illegal immigrant mother at home and that if she says the wrong thing she could get deported.
The character’s beliefs range across the political spectrum from greedy hypocritical liberals (Toni Collete’s character resembling Gwyneth Paltrow‘s brand of decadent liberalism) to casually prejudiced Republicans complaining about how immigration is going to ruin the country. The most egregious inclusion in the film comes with the character of Jacob, a teenager who looks suspiciously like The Daily Wire’s own Ben Shapiro who is described by the other characters as a “Nazi” and an “Alt-Righter.” Given their mutual incompatibility, I can’t imagine Ben Shapiro or the anti-Semites in the Alt-Right would appreciate being compared to one another so egregiously.
Then again, I can’t imagine that Rian Johnson has the sensitivity to those he deems his political opponents to offer them the dignity of distinguishing between them. The characters are all despicable greedy people that the movie actively wants the audience to hate before it reveals which of the characters is responsible for the eldest patriarch’s death. While Rian Johnson doesn’t tend to talk politics in interviews and on social media all that much, it’s clear from the film that he suffers from a great deal of class envy and doesn’t share much empathy for his fellow countrymen who voted the wrong way. It’s a shame that a director as clever as he is with the kind of Hollywood backing he’s earned is going to build his career entirely on pandering to the far-left at a time when we desperately need original, well written Hollywood movies in the vein of Knives Out.
Check out the trailer:
Born into the unexplored residential backwater of Chicago, Tyler Hummel is a graduate of Tribeca Flashpoint College where he studied Sound Design for Film and Interactive Media. When he isn’t hosting his public access talk show The Fox Valley Film Critics or collecting DragonBall Z figurines, he enjoys writing and directing short films. As with Rick from Casablanca, “he’s a man like any other man, just more so!”
The views and opinions expressed in this review do not necessarily reflect those of this blog.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out Rosemary Dewar’s review of Dark Phoenix and CS Johnson’s review of The Aeronauts. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.