Rian Johnson: Is He the Next Big Writer in Hollywood or a Glorified So-So Movie Maker?

I have now seen two movies of Rian Johnson’s; Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out. Both left me feeling the same after each first viewing. A bit intrigued, a bit dissatisfied, but overall eager for more. I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

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In the case of The Last Jedi, it took me two viewings to get it and multiple viewings at home following my second viewing in the movie theaters to garner a legitimate appreciation for the film. Why is that? Because Rian Johnson doesn’t tell an overall good story that punches you in the gut with its brilliance. His movies have layers and nuances that you miss until a second viewing, at which case you peel back the facade and witness the true story underneath. That can be hard for most movie watchers and it was downright wrenching for the Star Wars fandom.

Some people love The Last Jedi. Some people hate it. Johnson’s vision is very polarizing and I’ve grown to expect that with his storytelling. Knives Out follows the same pattern.

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It’s visually provocative with bold and muted colors blending in your vision as you’re watching a story unfold before your eyes but the story is a bit of a droll at first…until it isn’t. Then you’re left on this rollercoaster ride that won’t stop until it decides to, leaving you a bit exhausted and a bit pleased (or bewildered) at its conclusion.

Honestly, thank goodness Chris Evans was in the movie because he saved the day for me. He brought an element to the story that the film desperately needed (maybe the movie needed a handsome guy to look at, I don’t know!) but it was after his inclusion that the story finally started getting somewhere.

Don’t get me wrong. Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc was exceptional in the film from start to finish as he hilariously but effectively pieced together a murder mystery that was a bit too elaborate for its own britches. Ana de Armas’s Marta Cabrera was engaging too but she, however, was a bit on the nerves.

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It’s very clear that he directed both Armas and Ridley. I saw a shocking similarity in the way they acted in their films along with Johnson. The gleam of tears in the eyes, the fierce display of vulnerability, as if they’re barely holding on by a strand, it seems to be his staple when directing women in movies. Hmm…

So, that leads me to the question of this post; is Rian Johnson the next big writer in Hollywood or a glorified so-so movie maker? I’m going to say a bit of both.

Rian Johnson has good ideas and is a brilliant director but, and that’s a huge BUT, both of his films have left me feeling a bit disinterested, dissatisfied, peeved, you know, negative. I wish I could say that Knives Out was the best murder mystery movie I’ve ever seen but it wasn’t. Not even close.

The best murder mystery I’ve ever seen is The Silence of the Lambs and for good reason. That movie is riveting and TOTALLY HORRIFYING on so many different levels. Knives Out got a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score, yes, but that’s only because it made plenty of political statements laced throughout the film.

I’m giving Knives Out a solid 89 out of 100 and 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not bad but I’m not urging you to watch it either.

Now I’m starting to wonder if I really want to see that Rian Johnson Star Wars trilogy or not. Hmm…

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a lovely day.

 

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