Wednesday 15 May 2024

REVIEW: Knox Goes Away (2024 Film) - Starring Michael Keaton

Knox Goes Away

Review by Jon Donnis
Knox Goes Away (2024) is a compelling American crime thriller that showcases Michael Keaton's prowess both in front of and behind the camera. As his second directorial venture, Keaton delivers a poignant narrative penned by Gregory Poirier, weaving together an emotionally charged and unpredictable story. Keaton stars as John Knox, a seasoned hitman who, upon being diagnosed with a rapidly progressing form of dementia, seeks to make amends and secure his family's future.

The film opens with Knox working as a contract killer for crime boss Xavier Crane, leading a life marked by estrangement from his family and a romantic relationship with a Cracovian immigrant named Annie, bonded by a shared love for books. Knox's world unravels when he learns he has Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, prompting him to plan his retirement from the criminal underworld. However, his final job spirals into chaos: Knox accidentally kills his partner, Thomas Muncie, in a moment of dementia-induced confusion after successfully eliminating his target.

The stakes heighten when Knox's estranged son, Miles (James Marsden), confesses to killing a man who raped his daughter. Knox uses his skills to protect Miles by meticulously removing incriminating evidence, but this only draws the attention of determined Detective Emily Ikari (Marcia Gay Harden). The tension escalates as Ikari begins to connect the dots between the murders, closing in on Knox while he battles his deteriorating mental state.

Knox's struggle is not just against the police but also against time and his own mind. His interactions with his old friend Xavier Crane, played with gravitas by Al Pacino, add depth to the narrative, revealing a plan to ensure Knox's family is financially secure. However, Knox's dementia leads to further complications, including a harrowing confrontation with burglars and Annie, who betrays him out of fear and desperation.

Michael Keaton's performance as Knox is a tour de force, capturing the character's complexity and vulnerability with heartbreaking realism. Al Pacino's portrayal of a loyal yet morally ambiguous friend adds a layer of gravitas to the film. James Marsden, Ray McKinnon, and Marcia Gay Harden all contribute strong performances, enriching the film's intricate web of relationships.

The film's pacing, though slow, effectively builds tension, rewarding patient viewers with a deeply absorbing character-driven narrative. Alex Heffes's score, with its use of saxophone and piano, enhances the brooding atmosphere, adding to the film's noir vibe. Keaton's direction demonstrates a confident and clear vision, seamlessly balancing the human drama with the suspense of a thriller.

Despite its strengths, the film does have a few plot holes that may leave some viewers questioning certain character decisions and narrative turns. These gaps slightly detract from an otherwise tightly woven story but do not overshadow the film's overall impact.

Knox Goes Away is a unique and emotionally resonant film, blending the genres of human drama and crime thriller with finesse. It offers a fresh take on the hitman narrative, exploring themes of redemption, guilt, and the ravages of illness. The slow-burn tension and the powerful performances, particularly from Keaton, make it a memorable viewing experience. With its innovative storytelling and compelling execution, Knox Goes Away earns a solid 8.5 out of 10.

Out Now on Digital.
Soundtrack available at