The first thing that some of you may have learned about this movie was that it was directed by Rian Johnson. Your next reaction might have depended upon how much you loved or hated that one Star Wars movie--or not, if you also happen to be a fan of Looper. Regardless, that was probably this movie's biggest draw upon first glance--aside from the fact that it was a mystery "whodunit" *without any source material.* That's actually pretty impressive, since most murder mystery movies these days (which are a dying breed to begin with) draw from some kind of source material--most recently Agatha Christie in Kenneth Brannagh's rendition of Murder on the Orient Express.
This one also has a somewhat deliberately more comedic take on the genre, though the film doesn't tend to lose its seriousness along the way. And it firmly entrenches itself in the modern day in more ways than one--besides modern technology playing a role, phrases like "weaksauce" and "Instagram influencer" are thrown in for comedy, as well as occasionally a few random political buzzwords (also sometimes for comedy--or at least, attempting it).
The sleuth detective here is Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), whose defining characteristic is his bizarre and rather goofy accent that sounds like it's trying to mimic a Southern drawl--and not entirely succeeding. Actually, it's been argued that the main character here isn't the detective but instead Marta, Ana de Armas's character, who is stuck square in the middle of this mess.
Here, the "whodunit" centers around Christopher Plummer's character, who's found dead within the first two minutes (don't worry, we still get to see plenty of Plummer's acting via flashbacks). It's set to be ruled a suicide, but Blanc suspects foul play--and getting to the heart of the mystery will involve dealing with a rather stuck-up family that is left behind.
All in all, it's a pretty fun mystery with a side of comedy to it. It probably wouldn't be overly remarkable without the unique touches Rian Johnson adds to it, despite the decent twist ending. But once you get used to some of Blanc's odd behavior, he's pretty fun to watch. It helps a lot that the cast is strong, which includes Craig, Armas, Plummer, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, and Frank Oz. Besides Craig, Evans and Shannon are clearly enjoying themselves, and it definitely does help vault the film a bit. And as previously stated, the sometimes more light-hearted feel to it also helps.
The downsides to this movie mostly have to do with the family of the deceased. Really, aside from Blanc, Marta, and one fanboy detective who's clearly enjoying every minute of this, most of the characters are inherently unlikable. Actually, some of them aren't even really characters, but rather cliched caricatures--a few of them of a political nature. Of course, all of this is in part by design which helps excuse it a little. But there's a couple of scenes in particular that are a little annoying to sit through. For somewhat similar reasons, the final shots of the movie--which are supposed to come off as a silent statement--come across as a bit corny. On an entirely different note, the film is a little slow-paced at times during the early goings before the mystery really gets properly going.
Regardless, Knives Out is very much one of those small handful of non-indie movies of 2019 that is likely to be a brief of fresh air for the franchise/sequel-weary movie viewers. It's very much worth watching, especially if you're a fan of the genre. And if nothing else, the acting and humorous parts of the script ought to keep one from being bored.