Daggers in the Back’: Rian Johnson deconstructs classic murder mystery in one of the greatest films of 2019

November 7, 2019

Although it is hard to believe – I still do not give credit – at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, there is still a current of thought within the film community that, far from being deservedly extinct, still has a large group of defenders.

Fortunately, and if there was any doubt after Steven Spielberg and François Truffaut closed the mouths of a large part of the “intellectual” sector with their unexpected collaboration in ‘Encounters in the third phase’.

We still have authors of the calibre of Rian Johnson to refute it; combining in his works an intelligence and filmic values that are not at all incompatible with his capacity to offer first class escapism. After delights such as ‘Brick’ or ‘The Bloom Brothers’, and turning upside down the franchise ‘Star Wars’ with the controversial and groundbreaking ‘The Last Jedi’.

The American director returns to the load with ‘Daggers in the Back’, a perverse and brilliant feature film that, paying a heartfelt tribute to literary mystery geniuses such as Conan Doyle or Christie, is crowned as one of the last great titles that has left us this almost deceased 2019.

A whodunnit to take off your hat

Honouring the truth, it should be noted that ‘Daggers in the back’ does not invent anything new. And it is that the last of a Johnson that not only directs, but also endorses the intricate script of the feature, does not stop being a remasterization of the murder mystery to the old usanza.

Reconverted into a real time bomb by combining the purest and almost sentimental classicism with the technical and narrative avant-garde that is expected of an author as the responsible.

This duality, much more risky and marked than in the equally groundbreaking but much more conservative ‘Murder in the Orient Express’ by Kenneth Branagh, is strongly present in several aspects of the proposal.

The most surprising is a tonal bet that, without abandoning a face for all audiences, overflows with a black humour like charcoal suited to its strong political reading.

Because, homicidal enigmas apart, and veiled behind its choral comedy nature, ‘Daggers in the Back’ encloses in its photographs an acid slap to the Trump administration and to the mentality of the average current Republican voter, represented through the hilarious and archetypal members of the main family.

Along with them, the secondary characters are also dazzling, written with an enviable care and taste for detail. Among them is the gifted detective Benoit Blanc, heir to Sherlock Holmes and Hércule Poirot and played by Daniel Craig.

Who puts the icing on the delicious cake that is the cast of the film full of stars and in which, against all odds, Ana de Armas rises as the great revelation.

All of them are devoted body and soul to Rian Johnson’s perfidious game

He films with impeccable style and precision a whodonit that triumphs, beyond its exquisite form and its stunning protagonist squad, thanks to an enormous narrative that plays with structure and point of view without any kind of complexes, inviting the armchair courtyard not to flicker for 130 minutes that are worth its weight in gold.

Using his overflowing talent and a more than evident devotion to the genre, Johnson has managed to sign a hilarious deconstruction of it to claim as one of the great unexpected jewels of 2019.

A marvel entitled ‘Daggers in the Back’ that reminds us that with passion, skill and huge quantities of grey matter, the best cinema imaginable can go hand in hand with the most refreshing entertainment.