In part, because Rian Johnson’s modern twist on the whodunnit genre is a wonderfully well-played, fast-paced murder mystery that brings together Agatha Christie’s punch with modern crime fans in a story about a crime writer (!) is difficult to comprehend. Who may have committed suicide, or who may have been murdered, is unknown. However, while Daniel Craig’s portrayal of a Hercule Poirot-like detective may be an acquired taste for some, we were unable to stand his strange Southern accent and laid-back clarification style. And then it surprises us with a class-critical dimension that we had not anticipated. It is a positive surprise.
But isn’t it possible that it will become too meta and genre-conscious?
Perhaps, but the film is written with a witty sense of humor (“I read a tweet about the portrait of you in The New Yorker,” reads one retort) and a beating heart that distinguishes it from being merely a fashion show. It’s the kind of movie that you’d finish watching every time you saw it on flow TV, which was still a thing back when it was first released.
The answer to the question of whodunit is revealed in such unexpected ways that just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you realize something doesn’t add up. This is similar to the films and books that served as inspiration for this one. Upon completion (and my God, Johnson delivers one of the best final shots in recent memory), you’ll be able to disassemble the film’s ingenuity like a detective yourself, marveling not only at how the details of what happened that night were revealed, but also at the social message that was subtly woven throughout it all. The temptation to say that it’s a mystery that Harlan Thrombey himself would have enjoyed is strong; however, he almost certainly never wrote a mystery this good.