Stars: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Lakeith Stanfield
After the messy and extremely contentious sequel ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ writer-director Johnson regains a considerable amount of ground with this enjoyable murder mystery yarn which sports a top flight cast, and is his best picture since teen noir debut ‘Brick’. When world-famous mystery author, Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is found with his throat slit the day after his eighty-fifth birthday, local cop Lt. Elliott (Stanfield) is called in to investigate and declares it an obvious case of suicide. Then the honey-voiced genteel southern detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) turns up at the Thrombley family pile suspecting foul play, with each member of the clan a suspect. Among the possible offenders are faithful doe-eyed maid Marta (de Armas); Harland’s daughter, Linda (Lee Curtis); a blunt real estate tycoon married to the philandering Richard (Johnson); Linda’s brother, the frustrated wannabe publisher Walt (Shannon); second daughter and new age businesswoman guru type Toni (Collette), and Linda’s tearaway black sheep son Ransom (Evans, amusingly turning the bratty right up to eleven). While it’s not quite the ensemble piece mooted – it’s mainly the Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas show – this is good nasty fun, pleasingly redolent of Neil Simon’s underrated 1976 movie comedy ‘Murder by Death’, intricately plotted and briskly paced. The cast’s enjoyment is infectious and the production design is also top notch.