Writer/director Rian Johnson has touched a lot of genres and concepts in his career as a filmmaker, and he’s always left a mark in the worlds he’s chosen to visit. Perhaps one of the most notable is the wildly successful whodunnit Knives Out, which saw him create the hysterical detective Benoit Blanc alongside actor Daniel Craig.
The sleeper hit prompted a deal to make at least two more sequels, the first being Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Going bigger and lusher, yet without screwing with the machinery that made the first film so brilliant, Johnson has made a twistier, funnier and sharper mystery that needs to be seen to be believed.
Taking inspiration from the pandemic era of 2020, Glass Onion sees its mystery set among a secluded and fully vaccinated island of suspects. Gathered at the behest of rockstar billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), we see a collection of disruptors assembling for a fun murder mystery party. Everyone has a connection to the man of the hour, except for master detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig).
The only mystery greater than how and why Benoit has been summoned is, of course, who will be committing the crimes that take place throughout this Clue-style romp. While it could be easy for someone like Rian Johnson to just change the characters and setting of this proven formula, Knives Out’s follow-up surpasses the mantle of its predecessor with panache and reckless abandon.
Somehow, Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig have topped the brilliance that is Knives Out.
Mysteries and comedies are hard to write, as they both depend on a common factor of enjoyment: surprise. Punchlines are just like motives and solutions, in that if you can see them coming a mile away, you either need clever delivery or a fresh rewrite. Once again, Rian Johnson has brought something new to the table in both respects, sharpening his own knives of commentary and plottery for the occasion.
Which brings us to the equally hard task of writing yet another intriguing mystery that can’t be figured out in five minutes. Benoit Blanc’s latest case is even more fun to puzzle out than the last, as another combination of clever clues, misdirects and plot twists populate the story of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Going two for two, Rian Johnson clearly knows the moves and has the ability to bob and weave through a maze’s worth of adventure.
In that same vein, Daniel Craig’s return to the role of Benoit Blanc isn’t a case of merely staying together for the franchise. You can see in his performance, and even in his very face, that he has a healthy love for Johnson’s material and the character he gets to embody. Even during his James Bond tenure, Craig has always seemed to be setting himself up for the comedy game in his post-tuxedo career. Glass Onion proves that this was not only a shrewd move, but one that shows off the actor’s passion for this series.
A new all-star cast of suspects shines brightly, with blistering commentary and cracking jokes.
Glass Onion may take the same pleasure that Knives Out did when it came to skewering the themes of privilege and wealth, but it doesn’t just repeat itself without any sort of variation. Influencers and tech bros are the new targets, which affords Johnson brand new jokes and jabs to deliver in the name of satire. Wild personalities that all have their own quirks and reasons to break bad, the enjoyment stays the same while the material changes.
It also helps that the cast assembled is an equally insane assortment of talents combining to form a league of lunatics that walk the line between laughable and reprehensible. Throwing the likes of Kathryn Hahn, Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista together as suspects makes sense on paper, and in the wrong hands, a cast like that could be wasted. But just as meticulously as Rian Johnson assembles his plots, he puts that same amount of love and care in filling his roster of performers.
Knowing the game is one thing, but having players that understand what Johnson is doing in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is just as important. Bringing their characters to life through nuanced comedy rather than lazy caricatures only enhances the script that sits at the heart of the entire enterprise. And once again, Daniel Craig anchors this entire cast together with his flawless return as Benoit Blanc, especially sparking in the scenes he shares with Janelle Monáe. These two should be paired off again in the future, as Craig and Monáe’s combined energies sell scenes both dead panned and deadly, allowing the rest of the cast to really go for it with more extreme actions.
Glass Onion is further proof that Rian Johnson’s original detective is no fluke.
The easiest decision that anyone could have made in terms of Glass Onion: A Knives Out <ystery was to allow it to exist. Sequels are easy to greenlight when you deliver a surprise success, but they lead to perilous journeys into making something as memorable, if not more-so, than the original. Glass Onion isn’t as memorable as Knives Out, as it surpasses its predecessor in every single way possible and does it with a smile on its face.
Even trying to describe how much fun this movie is feels like a disservice, as words can only go so far. Engrossing in its mystery, and simply giddy in its deft hand at humor, Glass Onion shows that Rian Johnson has nailed the sequel game in its tracks. Though he may despise the game of Clue, Benoit Blanc should take comfort in the fact that this new adventure yet again sparks the same sort of joy that the classic board game adaptation has brought to the world.
Never rushing himself in his craft, Rian Johnson should be allowed to take as much time as he needs to get back into the saddle. Topping this second Benoit Blanc mystery is going to be even more of a Herculean feat, which only makes Knives Out 3 even more of a hotly anticipated prospect. For now, audiences should embrace the fact that Benoit is back, and the laughter and gamesmanship of Knives Out is better than ever. It’s no mystery, Glass Onion is a splendidly uproarious must see.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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