GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY (2022)
Starring Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Ethan Hawke, Dallas Roberts, Jackie Hoffman, Noah Segan, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Sondheim, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Natasha Lyonne, Hugh Grant, Serena Williams, Yo-Yo Ma and the voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Screenplay by Rian Johnson.
Directed by Rian Johnson.
Distributed by Netflix. 139 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Screened at the 2022 Philadelphia Film Festival.
Let’s take the Knives Out back out. Writer/director Rian Johnson’s 2019 all-star mystery comedy was a surprise smash when it was released to theaters a few years ago. A mixture of old-fashioned parlor mystery and supremely black farce, the movie was one of the best of the year.
Glass Onion is the second of the Knives Out comic mysteries – although technically from a storyline point, it has little in common with the first film other than the presence of Daniel Craig’s “gentleman sleuth” Benoit Blanc. However, if has a similar feel and vibe to the first one, so the latest film is welcome.
In fact, writer/director Johnson has signed a deal with Netflix to make a whole series of Blanc whodunits, much like Johnson’s inspiration Agatha Christie did with her fictional novels revolving around a single detective character like Hercule Poirot. In fact, Netflix has broken with their own precedent with Glass Onion, making it the first made-for-Netflix film which will have a short (week-long) theatrical run before debuting on the streaming channel.
Glass Onion is even bigger, broader and wilder than the first film – and nearly as good. When you consider how good the first film is, that is not a bad thing. Glass Onion doesn’t quite have the freshness of the first film and occasionally seems to be trying a bit too hard, but it’s still very good. We’ll settle.
And bonus points for Glass Onion purloining its opening from the fantastic nearly forgotten 1973 whodunit film The Last of Sheila. (On the red carpet of the Philadelphia Film Festival before the screening, director Johnson told me that film is one of his favorites.) It’s also very much inspired by the Agatha Christie book (and movie) Evil Under the Sun.
Glass Onion is a modernized variation on the old standby plot of a small group of diverse people – all with some potentially sinister motives – who are stranded together when a body suddenly appears. They have no way to get away and nothing else to do but to try to find the killer.
The setting is at a huge mansion on the private island of billionaire tech tycoon Miles Bron (Edward Norton). His guests are all friends from college who have each gone on to some fame or infamy – disgraced fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom, Jr.), macho social media influencer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and Miles’ estranged business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe).
Also invited is detective Blanc, although how exactly he was invited is just one of the many riddles which pop up.
What begins as a murder mystery game party quickly becomes an actual murder mystery.
The puzzle itself doesn’t always totally make sense, but it’s fast and funny and allows you to overlook the periodic plot holes. The film has as many layers as a… well glass onion… which is a huge, intricate sculpture in the mansion which keeps exposing little quirks as you look at it from different angles.
As any good mystery should.
Johnson is already at work on a third film in the series, and Netflix has said they are open to as many films as can be put together. (And since his inspiration Agatha Christie wrote 80 books in about 40-50 years, as Johnson told me on the red carpet, “I’m slacking.”)
Here’s looking forward to seeing what he comes up with as he tries to catch up.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 22, 2022.