Are you “Knives In” or “Knives Out” for a good movie?

I’m in for “Knives Out” any day.

Are you

Audrey Herron, Reporter

Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” is one of the most purely entertaining films in years. It is the work of a great cast and a fantastic cinematic magician, who keeps you focused on the left hand and you completely miss the right. Directing a wildly charismatic cast who are all-in on what he’s doing, Johnson confidently stays a step or two ahead of his audience, leaving them breathless but satisfied at the end. Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a wildly successful mystery writer and he’s dead. His housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) finds him with a slit throat and the knife still in his hand. It looks like suicide, but there are some questions. After all, who really slits their own throat?

The film starts with interviews of each “suspect” by a couple of cops (the wonderful pair of LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan). First up is daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is a successful businesswoman with a crap husband named Richard (Don Johnson) and an awful son named Ransom (Chris Evans). Son Walt (Michael Shannon) runs the publishing side of things, but he’s been fighting a lot with dear old dad. Daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette) is deep into self-help but has been helping herself by ripping off the old man. Finally, there’s Marta (Ana de Armas) who is the real heroine of “Knives Out” and Harlan’s most trusted confidante. Can she help solve the case?

 The case may have just been closed if not for the arrival of the famous detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, who spins a southern drawl and oversized ego into something instantly memorable. However, who brought in Blanc? Blanc was delivered a news story about the suicide and envelope of money. So someone obviously thinks the game’s afoot. Why? And who? The question of who brought in Blanc drives the narrative as much as who killed Harlan. Craig is delightful—I love the excitement in his voice when he figures things out late in the film—but some of the cast gets lost. It’s inevitable with one this big, but if you’re watching “Knives Out” for a specific actor or actress, be aware that it’s a large ensemble piece and your fave may get some curt treatment and a dismissal. Unless your favorite is Ana de Armas, who is really the heart of the movie. The Thrombeys claim to love Marta, even if they can’t remember which South American country she comes from, and Don Johnson gets a few razor sharp scenes as the kind of guy who rants about immigration before quoting “Hamilton.”

Some viewers may not like the language as well. The film has quite a bit of swearing, and does end up being on the long side of the time scale. Ultimately, as in the films and books that inspired this one, it’s all about the whodunit, which is revealed in such unexpected ways that just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize something doesn’t add up. When it’s actually over( and Johnson really sticks the landing with one the best final shots of the year) you’ll unpack it all like a detective yourself, marveling at just how the details of what happened that night revealed themselves, but how you could have missed the clues. It’s tempting to say that it’s a mystery that Harlan Thrombey himself would have loved, but he probably never wrote one this good.