Knives Out boasts the Empire Strikes Back of sequels, actor Dave Bautista tells PEOPLE on July 29. The Rian Johnson whodunnit charting the phantasmagoric adventures of one Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) will carry on Ransom Drysdale’s (Chris Evans) terminal legacy — of crime, succession, and bitter envy — in a new family drama to regale viewers. Knives Out 2 stars a fresh ensemble cast. The on-set chemistry is reportedly more gripping than the original.
“I think the characters are just so much more colorful,” Dave Bautista elaborates. “I think people are really going to dig this. Everybody’s cast so well. I was working with a couple of my castmates and was mesmerized by their performances and just how well they’ve adapted into these characters. I think the characters in this are even more quirky than the first one.”
But cast members don’t always make a film. Writing and the director’s input are just as crucial to the creative process as a handful of remarkable talents. Every element of production must work in perfect sync to deliver a final product that truly beguiles the viewer. Plenty of otherwise well-casted films have buckled under the weight of a clumsily written screenplay, or a director with little understanding of the material they’re covering, and Knives Out 2 wouldn’t be an exception. The sequel would need much more than a stellar cast to outshine the original. Rian Johnson is back in the chair for this one, so was he able to surpass the Rian Johnson of 2019? A full assessment is difficult to ascertain without a completed work, and yet Dave Bautista already has the greatest faith in the man’s storytelling abilities.
“I really think it’s going to be as good, if not better, than the first one,” Dave Bautista continues. “I’m always afraid to say that because I don’t want anybody to get offended saying that we’re going to be better, but I really do think this.”
Dave Bautista’s confidence in Johnson aside, the sequel remains the most contentious, unpredictable element in most franchise trilogies. The result often makes or breaks the legacy of the original, with no conceivable in-betweens. Cinephiles have long singled out Star Wars as having the single greatest sequel of all time with Episode V: Empire Strikes Back, which not only checks all the boxes but takes the ante several steps further. The point of a follow-up is to surpass the first, and fails spectacularly if it doesn’t. Empire Strikes Back is a brilliant example of a sequel done right; Back to the Future Part II is another. Many classics are their own masterwork in franchise-building, long before big comic book ensembles like the Marvel Cinematic Universe have dominated the genre.
In fact, the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself, despite all its pluses, also suffered from the so-called “curse of the sequel.” Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron are the franchise’s weakest links and they were all sequels to otherwise critically celebrated first movies. Iron Man is what kickstarted the MCU to begin with. Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, though still painfully average, at least felt Shakespearean in tone. And The Avengers was the ultimate superhero team-up every other studio has since desperately aspired for. Other sequels have triumphed, but only two are considered diegetic wins: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, the latter of which Dave Bautista was involved in. If there’s such thing as jinxing the franchise by casting an actor of little repute, then here we’ve got the opposite: with Bautista in Knives Out 2, other cast members aside, it’s bound to be one hell of a Sherlockian mystery.
The first Knives Out revolved around the Drysdale family and the unexpected murder of patriarch Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who was, in a clever stroke of irony, a murder mystery novelist. Detective Benoit Blanc was hired to investigate the case as the bereaved squabbled among themselves for control of Harlan’s inheritance. A handful of deaths later, it’s revealed grandson Ransom masterminded the whole thing, to clear the line of succession for himself. Harlan’s nurse, Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) was the one initially implicated for mixing up his medications, only to reveal, by her own hand, Ransom’s complex machinations that eventually led to the latter’s confession and arrest. The plot of the second Knives Out is still up in the air, but judging by Dave Bautista’s pink trousers and leopard-printed shirt, Daniel Craig’s casual European look, and Kate Hudson’s equally loud ensemble, Bautista must be speaking the truth about the characters at least.
Knives Out 2 stars Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Janella Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom, Jr., Kate Hudson, Madelyn Cline, Jessica Henwick, Ethan Hawke, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc. The film is set in Spetses, Greece, where the cast is currently shooting. The sequel was described to be more Agatha Christie than Sherlock Holmes. Rian Johnson returns to write and direct. Netflix, the franchise’s new distributor, already green-lit the third installment.