“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is a bit of an awkward title. But the film itself, which is only ever called “Glass Onion” on screen, is a delightful bagatelle of a mystery film, a laugh-out-loud comedy that deserves to be a mass theatrical hit. Sadly, that won’t be the case, as Netflix is only screening it for a week in theaters before pulling it to hit streaming for Christmas.
Perhaps “Glass Onion” is better known on streaming — at least philosophically.
But perhaps “Glass Onion” is better known on streaming — at least philosophically. After all, this is a movie about a horribly sleazy group of nouveau riche who break all the rules in the midst of the pandemic to play a game of murder mystery on an island in the Aegean. And his message – that billionaires are the dumbest among us – seems particularly timely.
The original “Knives Out” was a brilliant reimagining of the 1920s “Manor House Mystery” made popular by Agatha Christie. Franchise creator Rian Johnson rightly acknowledged that America’s 1% are the modern equivalent of the post-WWI aristocracy, and that the killings on their estates reflected Christie’s own time. . Southern-accented Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is Johnson’s modern-day Hercule Poirot, a fish out of water among the elite who is viewed by his career as an amusing sight. (Obviously, this backfires on you.)
The first film was very appropriately set in an English-style estate in New England, where the family despised Blanc’s accent while underestimating it. The follow-up is less of a meandering thriller and more of a broader comedy, but Johnson is once again taking aim at the super rich. This time we’re skewering the tycoons of Silicon Valley, starring Edward Norton as tech billionaire Miles Bron. He invites ‘old friends’, most of whom got up clinging to his coattails, to a Greek island with the meta-intention of spending the weekend playing a storybook-based game of murder mystery. from Christy.
Johnson begins the story in late May 2020, with characters miserably stuck in lockdown. Aspiring Senator Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn) does TV interviews dressed only from the waist down. Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) is a YouTuber who fights for MRA clicks; Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), a celeb who just went on a killing spree on her new line of sweatpants, partying at her Upper West Side apartment with her ‘pod’ of over 500 people, which includes sort of Yo-Yo Ma. And all of them are only too happy to hide out and party on an island with Miles while the rest of the world suffers.
These characters are not good people. Except of course, our hero, Blanc, who is also summoned to attend the party. At first, it looks like Bron decided to up the ante by having a real detective at his game. However, when it turns out the detective was secretly invited over by someone else, things start to get real interesting. And Blanc reveals that a true crime is being prepared.
Revealing the killer in the middle of the party would spoil the fun, but unlike the original, this sequel is less about finding the clues. Not that the case White is trying to solve doesn’t matter. But as the layers of this onion of glass peel away and scenes are replayed multiple times from different character perspectives, the story becomes less about justice and more about the stupidity of its protagonists. allegedly “awesome”. Bron is both a white man who stole the hard work of his black partner, Andi (Janelle Monae), and passed it off as his own, and the kind of idiot who regularly uses the wrong five-dollar word. in his sentences in his desperation to sound intelligent.
Unlike the original, this sequel is less focused on finding the clues.
Johnson also doesn’t spare enablers, like Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), the scientist whose job it is to automatically approve any deception Bron puts before him. There are times when you almost want to feel sorry for the misery of these lackeys after selling their souls. But then they all declare again how beautiful the Emperor’s robes look today, and that sympathy vanishes in a puff of island steam. Even hard-working employees, like Birdie’s assistant, Peg (Jessica Henwick), ultimately seek only their own interests. Johnson seems determined to leave us with very few people to cheer for.
But with few heroes, Johnson puts that giant Netflix budget to good use, filling the cast with hilarious and sometimes bizarre cameos. (That film happens to be Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury’s final screen appearance, ending their careers as random footnotes on a Zoom call.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt also a cameo, but so subtle you might miss it. . There are at least hopes that Hugh Grant, appearing in a 30-second spot covered in flour and mixing sourdough dough, will be given more screen time in the upcoming film.
That being said, “Glass Onion” is just as wonderfully enjoyable as its predecessor, even if there’s no need to connect the two. (Why not just rebrand them as “Benoit Blanc Mysteries,” Netflix? Too simple a solution, perhaps.) Even if you can’t (or don’t want to) rush into theaters on Turkey Day to see it on the big screen, you’ll almost certainly appreciate it on the small. And there you also have the pause button at your disposal in case of missed clues. No matter how it is perceived, however, Johnson’s commentary on the ultra-rich remains as sharp as ever.