Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery should be the standard-bearer for sequels. The film maintains the tone and voice of the original, while adding fresh elements in a fun new setting. It’s a wonderful time at the movies.
Daniel Craig reprises his role as world-famous detective Benoit Blanc. Technology billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton, having the time of his life) invites his close friends to his mansion, the Glass Onion, on a private island in Greece. The friends include model and designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson, also having a blast), Miles’ head scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), politician Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), and men’s rights activist and Twitch streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista). Duke’s girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) and Birdie’s assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) join the group as well.
Blanc is also unexpectedly invited along with Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Janelle Monae), Miles former business partner. Together the group is set for a long week of a planned murder mystery concocted by Miles. When a real murder takes place, Blanc must scramble to find out the motive and opportunity before the murderer gets away with it.
The marketing has done an exquisite job of guarding the film’s secrets. It’s the best way to experience the film. There is no clear indication of whom is murdered and whom is the murderer. As soon as the murder is committed, the story expands further, grander, and in completely unexpected directions. This film is an excellent representation of story structure triumphing over expectations.
Johnson is able to maintain a sharp visual style without skimping on substance. The eponymous glass onion is a memorable set piece, but the gaudy components of Miles’ mansion is as essential as the people. Every ridiculous thing lends itself to the narrative and gives further depth into Miles’ goofy mind.
Just like the first film, Craig is having a blast not being James Bond. Blanc is by no means a footloose character, but Craig imbues him with such relaxed confidence, it conveys a fun sincerity. Norton and Hudson are equally having a blast in different ways. Norton leans into the earthy douchiness of a tech bro without making him completely deplorable. He is such a good actor, it’s no surprise he has great comic timing. Hudson has made a long career of playing free spirits, but this time she is fully aware of how dumb her character is. Hudson never makes Birdie anything other than naively likeable.
Monae is the real revelation. Without revealing too much about the film, she plays into the mystery of Andi as well as the wholesome goodness. Even on top of that, the layers Monae is able to add that feels like a fully-formed person is remarkable. The rest of the cast is equally having fun, with Odom and Hahn playing it the most straight, but still game for what the film asks of them.
Are there things to pick on? Of course. The film is a bit long and the twists and turns stretch the realm of reality. But, who cares? You can do these things with any film. Don’t let yourself get that pessimistic. Sit back, take some guesses on how the film will end, and revel in the absolute delight set before you on-screen.
With Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Johnson has crafted a perfect piece of whodunit entertainment. Give in to the film’s atmosphere and have as much fun as the actors had while making it.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery plays in select theaters and streams on Netflix on December 23rd
The Film Critic & The Common Man – Knives Out
Review: The Suicide Squad
You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd.
Make sure to subscribe and keep up with everything IC4F has to offer!