Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” writer, director and producer Rian Johnson attends a red carpet movie premiere. Johnson was contracted to create a second and third film in the mystery franchise after Netflix purchased the rights to the series in 2021.

What do you get when you combine a star-studded cast, the woefully underutilized mystery genre and one of the most distinguished producers of the past decade? The “Knives Out” series, of course!

The original “Knives Out” film was released in 2019 to critical acclaim and was hailed as a refreshing original intellectual property in an industry where the top grossing films are almost exclusively blockbuster sequels of decades old franchises. Three years and one nearly 500 million dollar megadeal with Netflix later, the sequel was released in theaters Nov. 23 for a limited run ahead of coming exclusively to Netflix Dec. 23.

“Glass Onion: a Knives Out Movie” was written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc alongside an ensemble cast starring Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Janelle Monae and Dave Bautista among others.

Glass Onion drops the cozy New England backdrop of the first film, opting for a drastically changed locale of a paradisiacal Greek Island fully decked out with the latest in billionaire-pleasing amenities. The setting isn’t the only thing being shuffled this time around: besides Benoit Blanc, the rest of the cast is totally new and events from the first film aren’t even mentioned. This film is also less grounded, giving up some of the original’s gritty realism to match the idyllic lifestyle of the main characters.

The film centers around Benoit Blanc, with Craig delivering another delightful performance as the southern gentleman with an impeccable eye for detail. The ensemble cast also shines in the film, with each character getting plenty of screen time to accentuate their unusual qualities. Monae and Norton are especially strong in the film and each have their fair share of pointed monologues, similar to those found peppered throughout the first “Knives Out.”

Where the first film detailed the lives of the American upper class, “Glass Onion” sets its sight at the top of the top. The eccentricities of the billionaire class are on full display throughout its runtime and it has more than a few choice words on how the wealthy fall victim to entitlement and greed. This social commentary is more direct than the 2019 original and the contrast between the exceedingly privileged cast of characters at the center of the plot is thickened by the film’s setting during the height of the Covid pandemic in spring of 2020.

Beyond its starkly relevant social commentary, “Glass Onion” is, of course, a murder mystery at its heart. The film nimbly follows the blueprint laid out by its predecessor, turning genre tropes on its head while twisting and turning for the entirety of its 139 minute runtime. It may not match the dizzying heights of the first film, but it does more than enough to keep the audience guessing at all times. An additional mention must go out to the film’s set design and cinematography.

The island pops with color and mystique and you can feel the care that went into developing the grandeur of each new location. Each new locale is seemingly brimming with potential as the mystery unfolds, and there are an almost overwhelming number of pieces of eye candy in the background begging for a closer inspection.

Johnson’s knack for framing his characters in each shot continues to be a highlight and his artistic mastery of capturing the finest details will keep audiences satisfied throughout the duration of the film. There were many times I couldn’t help but grin as a clever new angle heightened the tension of one scene or delivered a unique perspective on a character’s facial expressions in another.

All in all, “Glass Onion” doesn’t tread a lot of ground—but it doesn’t have to. With the endlessly charming Benoit Blanc, an engaging ensemble cast and murder mystery tropes galore (many of them being either shattered or completely reimagined), there’s more than enough to keep fans of the original satisfied.

It’s the perfect holiday getaway from our cold, dreary December reality and I highly recommend a watch when it comes out on Netflix later this month—perhaps coupled with a rewatching of the original for good measure.