Rian Johnson: What Other Movies Has the ‘Knives Out’ Director Made?

Over the past couple of years, Rian Johnson has been one of the most-talked-about filmmakers on the internet. The director famously set the Star Wars fandom ablaze with the divisive The Last Jedi. Now he’s back with a new film, Knives Out. So let’s review Johnson’s filmography to date.

Writer/Director Rian Johnson at SXSW
Writer/Director Rian Johnson at SXSW | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

‘Brick’ (2005)


This neo-noir launched Johnson’s directorial career and gave fans their first glimpse at how he subverts genre norms. Set in a California suburb, Brick takes many of the trappings of classic mysteries and brings them back to high school. The result was one of 2005’s biggest indie success stories.

Brick also marked the beginning of an ongoing collaboration between Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The actor earned critical raves for his performance, which helped the former child star kickstart a new phase of his career. No wonder Brick has become such a cult classic.

‘The Brothers Bloom’ (2008)

Easily Johnson’s most underrated film, The Brothers Bloom is part light-hearted caper, part showcase for its trio of stars. Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo star as the titular brothers, world-famous con men determined to pull off one last job. Of course, that plan is complicated when the Bloom brothers cross paths with an heiress (Rachel Weisz).

The only Johnson film to underperform at the box office, The Brothers Bloom deserves to be discovered. Once again, the director lends his offbeat humor and character-first storytelling to a tried-and-true genre. His version of a heist film may not be his finest hour, but it remains a solid effort through and through.

‘Looper’ (2012)

Gordon-Levitt again takes the lead in this sci-fi action thriller. Looper follows Joe, a hitman who specializes in taking out fugitives from the future. But everything changes when he comes face to face with his older self (Bruce Willis).

Both men own the screen in a stylish time-travel story, and Emily Blunt seamlessly makes the transition into action star. Made for just $30 million, Looper was nevertheless Johnson’s first mainstream hit. In that regard, it set the stage for the film he would direct next.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ (2017)

And we’ve come to this. What can be said about Star Wars: The Last Jedi that hasn’t already been covered? As a sequel to J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the film takes some unexpected turns, a decision that thrilled as many fans as it infuriated.

Despite where Johnson took Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) story, The Last Jedi was the highest-grossing film of 2017. We’re still not sure if Johnson will ever make his way back to the “galaxy far, far away.” But it’s safe to say that his initial Star Wars adventure left fans talking.

‘Knives Out’ (2019)

Johnson’s latest looks to do with the murder mystery what the director previously did with noir, heist, time travel, and Star Wars stories. Namely, he will probably not do exactly what fans are expecting but bring his own modern spin to it.

Knives Out features a stellar cast that includes Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette and Chris Evans. The film’s trailer got fans excited at the prospect of a surprising, fun thrill ride. Meanwhile, those who have been following Johnson’s career over the years know this is precisely the filmmaker’s specialty.