Daniel Craig returns as the world’s greatest detective Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Rian Johnson’s sequel to his 2019 murder mystery that is even bigger and wilder than the first film.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blanc is struggling. He is bored out of his mind and spends most of his days sitting in a bathtub reading or playing online video games waiting for his next great case. He receives an invitation from tech-billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) to join him on his private Greek island. Joining Blanc on the island are some of Miles’ closest friends and business partners who call themselves The Disruptors: Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), a fashion socialite who is knee-deep in controversy. Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), is a men’s rights online influencer who lives with his mother. Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), Miles’ lead scientist who has trouble saying “no” to Miles. Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), a Connecticut governor. And Andi Brand (Janelle Monae), Miles’ former business partner who was stabbed in the back by Miles and the rest of the Disruptors during a court case over company ownership. Blanc has no idea why he was invited to the island among people he has no connection with but soon finds himself in the thick of potentially his next great case.
As a massive fan of the first Knives Out, I could not be happier at what Rian Johnson produced with Glass Onion. It features everything that was great about the first film while mixing it up to feel fresh and exciting. The first Knives Out saw Blanc tackling a case that dealt with a family rooted in legacy and old money, whereas Glass Onion has Blanc solving a case amongst those with new money and people who are infamous for all the wrong reasons. The first film was set in an old mansion during a cool fall, Glass Onion takes place on a bright, luxurious Greek island. The intricacies of how Blanc solves the cases are different and the cases themselves are very different.
Despite all their differences, Glass Onion is just as brilliant as the first Knives Out. Johnson, no stranger to making great sequels, keeps the same thrilling and lively tone of the first film here. His script, which is one of the best of 2022, is full of twists and turns that you never see coming and features a biting social commentary about the stupidity of modern fame. The scale of Glass Onion also feels bigger, with more glitz, glam, and flash than the first film, which only makes the film’s shattering finale feel more satisfying and fun.
Glass Onion also boats yet another stellar ensemble. Craig picks up right where he left from the first film and even elevates his performance to give us more of who Blanc is as a person, showing the frustration of a man who desperately wants a case to challenge him, yet he finds himself on an island with people he lacks respect for. And like the first film, Johnson showcases Blanc’s knack for understanding human behavior and knowing their tendencies. Craig might be done playing James Bond, but I would love to see him do several movies playing Benoit Blanc.
The Disruptors are all excellent, each one owning their specific role and killing it. The standouts for me came from Hudson, Norton, and Monae. Hudson is a lightning rod of energy. Birdy Jay says things that are questionable and bizarre, but Hudson’s delivery is hilarious. It is Hudson’s best performance in years. Norton’s portrayal of an ego, maniacal, smarmy billionaire who “wants to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Mona Lisa” (an actual quote said by Miles in the movie) is spot-on. Norton has never had this much fun on screen. Monae gets the most to do in the movie and takes the opportunity to give the film’s best performance. She brings emotional weight to the film while also showing her impeccable charisma and endless talent. It’s a marvelous performance that Monae knocks out of the park.
Like the first Knives Out, a testament to how good of a movie Glass Onion is in the rewatches. I’ve seen the first Knives Out several times and love it more and more every time I watch it. I’ve seen Glass Onion twice as of this writing, with more viewings surely to come by the end of the year, and the film played even better the second time. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still surprised by the pieces that I missed. Small character traits and lines of dialog popped out more and only made the mystery at hand more fun. I also found myself laughing more and was still captivated by everything that was happening. Glass Onion requires multiple viewings and with how much Johnson layered into the film and how much fun the film is, every rewatch will be more and more rewarding.
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