Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is Rian Johnson’s murder mystery sequel presented as pristinely layered, but is instead a dumb facade needing to be shattered to solve the contemporary murder mystery.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, shortened to just Glass Onion, directed by Rian Johnson sees the return of Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc as part of the contemporary whodunnit Knives Out franchise.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery was screened as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2022 where it had its European premiere. All words of this review were written entirely by the writers at Cinamore.
Glass Onion follows in Knives Out’s footsteps with a sensational ensemble of the cast including Katherine Hahn, Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., Madelyn Cline and Jessica Henwick.
The ensemble in Glass Onion, unlike Knives Out’s argumentive family, is instead an eclectic group of ‘disruptors’, a term coined by tech billionaire Miles (Edward Norton), who use their platforms, whether political, scientific, or as a modern influencer, to disrupt, and challenge the rules presented to them in a way that would ruffle feathers.
Duke (Bautista) a social media influencer who controversially sells steroids to his underage audience; Birdie (Hudson) a racially insensitive socialite and politically corrupt Claire (Hahn) all deem to be disrupting for a valid cause, but the purpose of which is shrouded in secrecy.
Coincidentally, it is failing to solve mysteries for which we are reunited with Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, a detective in a funk laying in the bath playing Among Us with Natasha Lyonne, Angela Lansbury and Stephen Sodenheim over Zoom at the height of COVID.
The last roles either Lansbury or Sodenheim will be associated with after passing earlier in the year, albeit appropriate ones as a result of their association with the murder genre – Murder, She Wrote and The Last of Sheila respectively.
Unfortunately, however, the oversaturation of the cameos in Glass Onion is one of its many undoings that presents it to be a weaker sequel.
For instance, Joseph Gordon Levitt for many will be an expected cameo, having starred in every film of Rian Johnson’s since their debut in Brick, but as the film enters its second act, the cameos including but not limited to Ethan Hawke, and namedropping of properties owned by stars, become a bombardment of satirical jabs where every punch fails to land.
Jabs that are intended to align with its satirical dissection of capitalism. But when Glass Onion is produced and distributed through Netflix, and with postproduction done in collaboration with Lucasfilm, a company owned by The Walt Disney Company, it means that it fails as a whole to acutely dissect the relation between money and power when both are so noticeable throughout.
Similarly, to compare Glass Onion to Knives Out, where the first is a tight dichotomy of family and wealth for its ensemble, its sequel instead has actors that provide little weight to the story for their inclusion and if removed would not affect its conclusion.
Perhaps the errors and weaker script are a result of COVID affecting Johnson’s precisional vision, with issues rearing later into the resolution that become as vacuous as the characters it explores.
Benoit Blanc is established to have been the greatest detective ever lived, yet after the tarnishing of his profile from the results of Glass Onion, I dread to imagine what the third instalment of this franchise will look like if the script intends to pursue this satire comedy rather than a contemporary mystery that worked so well in its favour originally.
Despite my criticisms, Janelle Monáe truly shines, her layered dimensional character is highly deserving of praise with how she carries the weight and silencing history of her multi-faceted character.
Similarly, the costume design by Jenny Eagan is worth spending time truly appreciating. Some of the best comedic moments of Glass Onion originate from Eagan’s work, including Benoit Blanc’s marine-inspired swimwear, and Miles’ wardrobe where every outfit is referencing another billionaire reinforcing how Miles is void of original thought.
Additionally, with the whodunnit genre seeing a renaissance as a result of Knives Out, as evidenced by See How They Run, and the aforementioned free-to-play mobile game Among Us, Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc is a fictional character that will be adored as much as Monáe’s involvement.
His legacy as a character is on par alongside the late Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote, David Suchet’s Hercule Poirot, and Sir Conan Doyle’s own Sherlock Holmes.
With Craig no longer carrying the License to Kill mantle as secret agent James Bond, it is in fact, Benoit Blanc that will continue Craig’s career as the smarmy Southern sleuth and will create conversation and dissection from audiences in a more engaging way than any of the James Bond films during his tenure.
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