Directed by: Rian Johnson
Premise: A follow up to 2019’s Knives Out. Private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is invited to an island gathering hosted by a billionaire (Edward Norton). The getaway is turned upside down by a murder.
What Works: Glass Onion continues the adventures of detective Benoit Blanc but this is not a sequel. Glass Onion is a self-contained story and Benoit Blanc is given a new mystery to solve in the same manner as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories. However, Glass Onion continues much of what made Knives Out so appealing. Benoit Blanc is a fun character and Daniel Craig once again plays him with a mix of wit and compassion. Like the previous film, Craig is paired with an impressive cast who get to play colorful characters. One of the surprises here is Kate Hudson who established herself as a romantic comedy star but her recent career has been uneven at best. Hudson plays a narcissistic pop culture influencer who is deliciously mean and shallow. Also impressive are Janelle Monáe as a woman with a mysterious past and Dave Bautista as a men’s rights commentator. Monáe has a complicated part to play and she does it well. The Benoit Blanc films are murder mysteries but they are also playful and Glass Onion has a lot of humor. These movies are also interesting in the way they are socially and culturally relevant but not in a way that is didactic. Glass Onion is set during the COVID-19 pandemic and the way these people react to those restrictions reveals their character. The film also critiques billionaire wealth and the influencer economy in a way that is fun and grows organically from the story.
What Doesn’t: Where Glass Onion is notably weaker than its predecessor is the murder mystery. The plotting in not particularly tight. The filmmakers use red herrings and misdirection in a way that is clever but some of the plotting does not hold up under scrutiny. The best mysteries are rewatchable because the mechanics of the storytelling are so pleasurable to behold. That’s not really the case in Glass Onion. A lot of clues and reveals are discovered by coincidence and there isn’t a lot of suspense surrounding who might be the murderer. The low storytelling economy comes to bear on the ending. The conclusion is satisfying enough and it is set up ahead of time but the resolution doesn’t really grow out of the investigation. It’s an expression of frustration that favors brawn over brains.
Disc extras: On Netflix.
Bottom Line: Glass Onion can’t quite match the storytelling of Knives Out but it is a worthy follow up to its predecessor. The characters are fun and the film is witty and interesting enough to sustain interest.
Episode: #934 (January 8, 2023)