Back during the week of Thanksgiving, I was one of the lucky people to go see Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) in theaters. Netflix is known to never release their films in theaters (outside of New York and L.A. for the sake of Oscars contention), and as this was their first time going “wide” with a release, they only released it in 600 theaters for one week only. For everyone else, today is the day they can finally watch it on the streamer. Rian Johnson’s original Knives Out (2019) was my seventh favorite film to release in 2019, which is saying a lot considering my favorite film of all time, Jojo Rabbit (2019), and another top 20 of all time, Parasite (2019), both released that year as well. With Netflix gaining the rights for future installments of Johnson’s mystery series, I was worried about how Glass Onion would turn out (their ratio of great to awful films each year is always dismal). That said, Rian Johnson has done it again, Glass Onion is a remarkable sequel.
In Rian Johnson’s newest whodunnit, the famed detective Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig) gets invited to the private island and estate of billionaire Miles Bron (played by Edward Norton), only the source of his invitation is a mystery to Bron himself. The invitations sent out to his eclectic group of friends were for their yearly reunion, with this year’s theme being a murder mystery weekend. Among his guests are Bron’s former business partner Andi (played by Janelle Monáe), the politician Claire (played by Kathryn Hahn), a scientist for Bron’s company Lionel (played by Leslie Odom Jr), former model Birdie (played by Kate Hudson) and her assistant Peg (played by Jessica Henwick), and right-wing influencer Duke (played by Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend Whiskey (played by Madelyn Cline). As the trip unfolds, Benoit Blanc discovers that each player in this game of mysteries has their own motive for wanting to come after Bron, but when someone ends up dead, Blanc must peel back the layers to see who is at the root of this murder.
Much like the original film, Glass Onion features an incredible ensemble cast with each having their own Clue-like character. Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, and I enjoy everything about his character more than I did in the 2019 film. His quips, nuances, and line delivery all excel, and I think this may be my favorite role of Craig’s (even more than his Bond). Like Knives Out, this sequel’s list of players each deliver fun and unique characteristics that make each character feel fresh and new. Each character acts as a personification of different stereotypes of wealthy elites: Kathryn Hahn playing a politician who throws away her values for money, Leslie Odom Jr playing a scientist who ignores safety protocols for immediate profit, Dave Bautista playing an Alex Jones/Joe Rogan spoof, and Edward Norton playing a very timely spoof of Elon Musk. What exemplifies these personifications even more is that the film takes place during the pandemic, so Glass Onion subtly plays with how the wealthy elite acted during it which leads to great comedic moments. While I love all of the characters in the film, I do think that the Thrombey family from the 2019 film was the more memorable and fun ensemble, and if there is one thing that holds this film back from the original, its that the characters didn’t have as much staying power with me.
All other aspects of the film are either on par or surpass the original. The costuming and set design are fantastic and feel like a natural extension of the Knives Out world. The dialogue feels a lot more intentional and witty, and the overall writing is incredibly fun. The area where Glass Onion is by far and away superior to Knives Out is its mystery (the most important aspect of an Agatha Christie-style whodunnit). This film’s framing of its storytelling leads to more emphasis on each character’s motivations and adds more mysteries than a singular murder. This leads to more engagement with the audience to try and guess who did what and more investment in the different suspects. Where as Knives Out reveals its hand relatively early, the twists and turns this film’s mystery takes make for a fun and exciting viewing experience that will keep you guessing with each new reveal.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a wonderful whodunnit and is sure to delight if you check it out this Holiday weekend. I keep going back and forth as to whether I like this film or the original more. Where Knives Out has the more memorable ensemble, Glass Onion has by far and way the better mystery with more twists and turns. I highly recommend this latest Rian Johnson mystery on Netflix, and I cannot wait for a third installment in the Knives Out world.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) is rated PG-13 for strong language, some violence, sexual material and drug content.
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