"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Rian Johnson is just very good at creating irreverent murder-mysteries. His 2019 film, "Knives Out", introduced the world to Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who is hailed as one of the best detectives in the world. Critics and audiences easily fell in love with the detective and the film he stars in, which caused Netflix to pick up two sequels to the hit film. The first of those sequels, titled "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery", jets our detective and an ensemble of eccentric characters to a private island for a murder-mystery party in a movie that serves as a brilliant modern-day representation of Agatha Christie's famous novels.
It is the middle of 2020, and everyone is still reeling from the global shutdown due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. One in particular is Mr. Blanc himself, who is trying to find things to do to keep his mind sharp while forced to stay at home. When he receives an invitation to a murder-mystery party on a private island that is owned and hosted by billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), he takes this as his chance to come back from the pandemic and do something he loves.
When he arrives, he is greeted by Bron's own personal friend group who is invited to the party as well; the group consists of Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick), men's rights YouTuber Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), and co-founder of Bron's company Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monáe), who was outed by the company and the friend group by everyone involved. Tensions are obviously high with the appearance of Brand, who no one has heard of since the time she sued Bron.
Even though the murder-mystery party is to be the highlight of the whole trip, it is interrupted by an actual murder when one of the members of the group mysteriously is poisoned and dies in front of everybody. Blanc obviously suspects foul play, and he will not stop until he finds out who committed the murder. However, there are many secrets and deceptive elements happening all around them, some that no one would ever suspect.
When comparing this movie to its predecessor, it seems like two completely different films that wouldn't even belong in the same franchise if not for Craig's character. The first movie was more of an old-fashioned and Victorian movie with modern elements mixed in, while this film is completely modern with numerous references to social media, celebrities, video games, and so much more. I won't mention them here so you can be surprised when it happens in the movie, but it contains tons of familiar and hilarious elements you would be shocked to see in a movie like this.
Now, this could have been a bad thing with both films being so vastly different from one another, but I think it works perfectly. It shows how this franchise can evolve and showcase something different every time Johnson releases another outing of the famous detective. While this movie may inferior to the previous one, I think it is still an excellent piece of cinema that uses every aspect of the murder-mystery genre perfectly.
Craig is absolutely perfect in this role, and I think I enjoyed his character more in this one than his first outing. He is able to showcase more of his personality, which is a lot of fun to watch. He seriously steals the viewer's attention in every scene he is in, and you know it's going to be a very good time when he shows up. The other actors all give excellent performances as well, especially Monáe, who is great at the roles she plays in this film. She is able to perfectly showcase her acting talents and she is stellar in her scenes with Craig.
The movie runs at a pretty good pace, and I think Johnson is able to excellently set up the characters and the story that will take placer over the two and a half hour runtime. What I truly love about his films is that he is able to do something in the early hour of the film, and then have it called back upon towards the end, making the viewer think back about what they saw earlier in the movie. It allows the audience to really think about what happened and allows them to see the movie in a different perspective when they rewatch it. This just shows Johnson is a master at crafting a screenplay that is both smart and hilariously witty.
You know it is going to be a good time when watching one of Johnson's murder-mystery films, and this movie is no exception. I think in a way, this movie is perhaps more fun and hilarious in certain aspects compared to the first movie. I'm very happy this movie lived up to its expectations, and I can't wait to see where Johnson takes his characters in the third film of this franchise.