‘Knox Goes Away’ movie review: Michael Keaton is the still centre of this maelstrom of memory and forgetting

A scene from ‘Knox Goes Away’

In his latest role, Michael Keaton portrays John Knox, a former intelligence operative turned contract killer, whose intellectual leanings earn him the moniker ‘Aristotle’. We follow his unique dynamic with his colleague Muncie (Ray McKinnon) through conversations that are reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s stylized banter, dissecting everything from the existential to the mundane preferences for consuming news.

‘Knox Goes Away’

Director: Michael Keaton

Starring: Michael Keaton, Al Pacino, Marcia Gay Harden, James Marsden, Suzy Nakamura, John Hoogenakker, Joanna Kulig, Ray McKinnon, Lela Loren

Storyline: A skilled hitman battles a rapid-form dementia while attempting to settle his final affairs

Run time: 114 minutes

As the movie starts, what appears to be a moody film noir transforms when we begin noticing Knox’s subtle moments of confusion. An urgent personal matter takes him to see a physician who delivers a grim diagnosis: a swift-progressing dementia that will soon cloud his moments of clarity.

Movies about assassins grappling with memory loss, such as Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne and Liam Neeson’s Martin Harris in ‘Unknown’, have carved out their own niche, and Knox’s story is a fresh take on this trope. With a mandate to put his life in order and one last mission to accomplish, Knox’s struggle for redemption becomes intertwined with a quest to reconnect with his distant son Miles (James Marsden). As he loses his grip on memory, he is pressed to complete his final assignment flawlessly, as advised by his old friend and recruiter Xavier (Al Pacino).

On the other side of the city, Detective Emily Ikari (Suzy Nakamura) investigates seemingly interlinked homicide cases, one involving multiple victims and another, a brutal attack on a hate group member.

‘Knox Goes Away’, directed by Keaton himself, becomes an unexpectedly poignant reflection on familial bonds, the enduring allure of literature, and life’s dark wit. The performances are stellar, with Pacino delivering a lively, standout performance and Harden, in her role as Knox’s former spouse, communicates nuanced sentiments in her brief but potent appearance. Kulig captivates as Knox’s love interest, with Marsden holding his own against Keaton’s commanding presence.

Keaton not only leads the on-screen action but also extracts profound performances, including his own, filled with both subtle and profound expressions. ‘Knox Goes Away’ is a film with depth and substance, offering new insights and emotional resonance with every watch.

‘Knox Goes Away’ is now playing in cinemas.

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