The tongue-in-cheek whodunnit has an abundance of space for excess, including the potential for a knock-out ensemble cast. Writer/director Rian Johnson did exactly that with 2019’s Knives Out, which put actor Daniel Craig at the center of its shenanigans. Its first sequel in a planned trilogy gives the audience what they’re looking for and does it auspiciously, even though it doesn’t pack many surprises. Netflix‘s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a worthy successor.
‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ brings murder to a remote island
Miles Bron (Edward Norton) is a billionaire with all of the toys imaginable at his disposal. Therefore, he invites his influential friends over to his private Greek island for a vacation getaway. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic looming over the world, this offers them an opportunity to escape the confines of their homes. Miles plans to spend the weekend playing a murder-mystery game where the group must discover the truth behind his fictional murder.
Senator Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), celebrity Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and her assistant, Peg (Jessica Henwick), Twitch streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend, Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), and entrepreneur Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe) are all in tow. However, they’re all surprised to see Benoit Blanc (Craig) join along, as this murder-mystery party turns all too real.
Another takedown of the rich and beautiful
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a pandemic movie through and through, picking up only months after the global shutdown in 2020. Nevertheless, this cast of privileged characters still continues to push forward with their lives. Claire is in the midst of a Senate race, while Alpha Industries continues to find new innovations to change the world. Meanwhile, Birdie and Duke are social influencers with deeply problematic views, repeatedly finding themselves in PR disasters. The group calls themselves the “disruptors” in their respective spaces, seeking a form of immortality that comes with their place in the spotlight.
Miles sends each of his friends a highly imaginative box that utilizes classic games to unlock the invitation to his private island. Similarly, the murder-mystery party is taken to the next level with unimaginable extravagance at every turn. As it turns out, Benoit is also experiencing emotional hardship during the pandemic, refusing to leave the bathtub and playing at-home detective games that he’s ironically terrible at, yearning for a real-life big case. Miles’ private island gives him precisely what he was looking for.
This group of potential suspects in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is shocked to see Benoit joining along, but they wouldn’t put it past Miles to hire the world’s greatest detective for his lavish murder-mystery party. He initially feels out of place, but progressively begins to observe the troubling dynamics between them that only Andi is willing to address. Their friendships only continue to deteriorate over the course of the weekend, further complicating the mysteries that appear in front of Benoit.
‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ is a lively whodunnit packed with laughs
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery introduces a new environment along with a different ensemble cast. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin makes full use of the Greek setting, introducing luscious, bright colors to the screen. He exquisitely accents Jenny Eagan’s dreamy costume design that flawlessly brings each character to life. Additionally, Rick Heinrichs’ superb production design highlights the overabundance found across the island.
Craig once again plays Benoit with a campy flair that is both hilarious and wholly engaging. He’s working with a marvelous ensemble, but Monáe is a cut above the rest. She plays with the role, diving through layers to compose a well-rounded character that leaves the audience wanting more. Johnson fills up the remainder of his cast with cameos, primarily serving as punchlines.
Unlike its predecessor, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery sees its murder-mystery unfolding right in front of Benoit. He’s actively piecing the crime together in real-time, rather than reflecting on a crime scene that already took place before his involvement. Therefore, Benoit is given more to do on the island beyond interrogating his suspects in a spy-like investigation. However, this also diminishes the cast’s ability to shine individually, which wonderfully put the ensemble to use in the 2019 original.
The major twist that Johnson takes the audience on doesn’t take a Benoit Blanc to figure out. It’s a predictable whodunnit that doesn’t concoct anything particularly new, which it interweaves into the film’s messaging. Johnson’s screenplay is incredibly self-aware, calling out its own lowbrow developments, which offer some comedy, but sacrifices its mysteries in the process.
Nevertheless, audiences who reveled in the original will undoubtedly have a blast with the sequel. It doubles down on the comedy, offering a reliably enjoyable ride along with another takedown of the rich and beautiful. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a wildly good time with consistent laughs and dazzling production value.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery travels into theaters on Nov. 23 and streams on Netflix on Dec. 23.