“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” stars Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista. Released in theaters on November 23, 2022, followed by a Netflix release on December 23, 2022, the film has Detective Benoit Blanc solving a murder mystery on a tech billionaire’s private Greek island.
The film was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who also directed “Brick”, “The Brothers Bloom”, “Looper”, and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. It is a sequel to Johnson’s 2019 film “Knives Out”. It’s no mystery that everyone enjoys watching a detective solve a compelling whodunit, with Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot being the best in the business. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that another detective made its way to the list with surprising results. That year saw the release of Rian Johnson’s original mystery film, “Knives Out”, which centers on Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc investigating the death of a patriarch. That movie helped the filmmaker recover from the blow of his controversial take on the “Star Wars” franchise and spawned a new franchise for the genre. It’s also a great movie to watch if you’re a fan of murder mysteries.
The first in the series of planned follow-ups reunites Craig and Johnson for another enticing mystery set in a new location. This time with the assistance of Netflix instead of Lionsgate, the first film’s distributor. The movie already made its exclusive premiere in theaters during Thanksgiving and proved to be a success with audiences. I was hoping to be a part of the audience who watched it before anyone else. Unfortunately, due to things being out of my control, including spending quality time with my family, I didn’t get the chance to do it. So I had to wait until it was on Netflix like everyone else who failed to experience it on the big screen. Now that it has finally arrived, let’s see if this sequel is as riveting and clever as its predecessor.
The story once again follows Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig). Blanc’s latest case leads him to a private island in Greece, where a tech billionaire named Miles Bron (Norton) is hosting a murder mystery party at his mansion, the Glass Onion. The other members attending include head scientist Lionel Toussaint (Odom Jr.), governor Claire Debella (Hahn), fashion designer Birdie Jay (Hudson), men’s rights streamer Duke Cody (Bautista), and Mile’s ex-business partner Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Monáe). When the party becomes a real-life murder mystery, Blanc attempts to solve the case and find the suspect before the killer strikes again.
The first “Knives Out” film was a breath of fresh air for the mystery genre. It featured an ordinary murder mystery that paid off exceptionally well thanks to Rian Johnson’s unique direction and screenplay. More importantly, it pays tribute to the genre that’s been captivating audiences for years due to its entertaining twists and an outstanding cast. So everyone, including me, was eager to see if its follow-up could live up to the same expectations as Johnson’s mystery classic. Most sequels in the murder mystery genre tend to please audiences with the elements that worked in their predecessors. However, they didn’t leave much of an impact as the originals regarding the storytelling. “Glass Onion” appears to be at risk of being one of those examples, but after finally watching it on Netflix, I’m glad it wasn’t the case.
“Glass Onion” offers many of the same elements that made “Knives Out” a surprise hit for the genre. You got the dynamic cast that keeps the film lively and humorous and the mystery aspect that has me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire runtime. Additionally, it takes several inspirations from the genre and occasionally jokes about it, mainly the “vacation mystery” ones like “Death on the Nile”. Those things make it sound like a carbon copy of the original and the other whodunits before it. However, with its new location and Rian Johnson’s direction, “Glass Onion” found a way to make itself fun and refreshing enough to make this vacation a dazzling, clever, and wild treat.
One of the major aspects of “Glass Onion” is undoubtedly Rian Johnson. With his films from the similar genre, “Brick” and “Knives Out”, Johnson has a great understanding of what makes a mystery enticing from beginning to end. Regarding his direction, Johnson effortlessly pays homage to the old-fashioned mysteries of years past while providing his own vision in its presentation and energy. More importantly, he isn’t afraid to get a bit wild on several occasions while keeping the story contained, especially in the finale. His direction aligns with the “Enola Holmes” films, in which murder mysteries don’t have to be dark and serious to be riveting. They can also be fun and vigorous while maintaining the mystery and tension and still be eye-openers for fans and newcomers.
But, of course, the real gem of the movie is his screenplay. The most important thing about murder mysteries is always throw people off with twists and turns. You want to make the audience believe they cracked the case before anyone else, but then you prove them otherwise with a surprise or two. That’s what Rian Johnson did with “Knives Out”, and he pulled off another home run with “Glass Onion”. Filled with solid dialogue and effective twists, the screenplay cleverly represents the mystery tropes in more ways than one. What makes it even better is its commentary on current business magnates. These people strive for success with their multiple lines of enterprise and will do anything to maintain it regardless of the consequences. The film handles this topic wonderfully by comically reflecting the characters’ self-absorbed behavior. It also helps the final reveal become more ingenious than obvious. Only time will tell if it’s enough for the film to take home the award for Best Screenplay.
Another aspect I immensely enjoyed was the all-star cast. “Knives Out” benefited strongly from its highly entertaining actors, who brought their mysterious, charming, and sometimes despicable characters to life. “Glass Onion” brought aboard another set of recognizable actors to attempt to recapture the zany and charm of the original. Of course, you also have the return of Daniel Craig and his irresistible accent, and yes, he’s just as lovable here as he was in “Knives Out”. Unsurprisingly, the supporting cast did a fantastic job with their performances, including Edward Norton as Miles Bron. Miles is the type of character you love to hate due to his half-baked personality and ideas. This is due to Johnson’s screenplay and Norton’s splendid portrayal of the character. Janelle Monáe was also a pleasant surprise as the Brand sisters, Helen and Andi, with the former’s character arc being the most interesting of the bunch. Monáe’s role in “Glass Onion” is another strong case scenario in which a singer can be a good actor with the right project and direction. Kathryn Hahn was also entertaining as Claire, and Dave Bautista was immensely entertaining as Duke Cody.
The production design is one of the aspects that differentiates “Glass Onion” from “Knives Out”, and it admittedly looks great. The main highlight of it is Miles’ mansion, the Glass Onion, which is luxurious to a fault. If I became a billionaire myself, I would definitely buy it as my dream home. Finally, there’s the musical score by Rian’s cousin and frequent collaborator, Nathan Johnson. Like his music in “Knives Out”, Nathan’s score reflects the classy and old-fashioned vibe of the previous murder mystery films. It’s also a banger to listen to if you enjoy his other music from Johnson’s previous movies.
Overall, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is an enticing, hilarious, and refreshing whodunit that’s as layered as an onion but doesn’t stink like one. It offers the same elements that made the original successful and mixes them effectively with its social commentary and convincing twists. As a result, the film is another sequel that matches, if not surpasses, the heights of its predecessor. The cast was highly entertaining, Rian Johnson’s direction and screenplay were top-notch regarding the genre, and the musical score was terrific. It not only showcases Rian Johnson’s remarkable talent as a filmmaker but also shows promise for his potential “Knives Out” franchise, with a third film already in the works. So if you loved the first film and the other whodunit movies before it, this latest murder mystery is worth investigating on Netflix.