“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” REVIEW [NO-SPOILERS] – ScreenHub Entertainment

Fair to say, Knives Out by Rian Johnson was a surprise hit in 2019. At the time, he was a director in need of love and recognition after directing the most controversial Star Wars movie since the franchise started in 1977. Both sitting in the director and writer’s chair once again, the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Looper created a modern reboot of Agatha Christie’s adventures of Hercule Poirot, but with brand new characters, a contemporary setting and an additional injection of humour. That’s not all, Knives Out was also filled with cultural winks, good performances by A-list actors and a solid murder mystery. All in all, a modern classic for the Millenials who enjoy a good whodunnit. This also guaranteed a follow-up to Daniel Craig’s acting career after he ended his run as James Bond; he unveiled Benoit Blanc, a detective for hire with a strange southern accent and a contagious charisma.

Having signed a distribution partnership with Netflix, Johnson is back with a sequel to the original movie with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Again, a packed cast of A-listers, namely Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, Janelle Monae, Jessica Henwick and of course Daniel Craig, coming back as Blanc. For one week only, Netflix distributed the movies in 600 theatres in North America as a ‘soft’ launch prior to its official airing on Netflix on December 23rd. Johnson insisted that this was a movie to see in theatres as well, and he was right.

Do we have an instant classic, like the original? One thing’s for sure, it’s damn close!

Playing with the nightmare that was 2020 around the globe, the plot of Glass Onion takes place during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic when everyone was quarantined at home. Benoit Blanc is playing mobile games in the bath, desperately waiting for a case to come by his desk. Luckily, he will stumble upon a special invitation delivered by billionaire and tech genius Miles Bron (Edward Norton, an obvious caricature of Elon Musk). The venue: to come to his private island in Greece (no less) in order to partake in a weekend of festivities, which includes a murder mystery game played with his closest friends. The clan includes a US Governor (Kathryn Hahn), an imbecile fashion beauty (Kate Hudson) and her assistant (Jessica Henwick), a ‘pro-guns’ influencer (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend (Madelyn Cline), a salaried scientist working for Bron’s company (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Miles’ old business partner who went through a shameful trial with all of them (Janelle Monae). As planned, the guests will all travel to the island together, where Miles built a bizarre high-tech compound that he likes to call the Glass Onion for its gigantic glass dome in the shape of an onion. However, friendly chit-chat and partying will become a tense environment once a real murder actually takes place, forcing Blanc to investigate before everyone decides to leave the island. In order to avoid spoilers, it’s hard to go into too many details I’m afraid.

Following the successful recipe that made the first Knives Out quite excellent, Glass Onion gives us as much, but in a more superficial way.

Daniel Craig in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery [Credit: Netflix]

‘Excentric’. I think that’s the first word that came into my mind once I left the theatre. Glass Onion, visually, looks like a Salvador Dali painting, both in terms of colors and also for the explosive art direction. The location that is the Glass Onion is an expressionist mish-mash of different art genres, with a dose of modern culture and technology. The setting of the vacation island where Miles Bron has his Glass Onion compound is astonishing, to say the least, a surreal abstract paradise where everyone’s desires are placed all around. Hard to say what is CGI and what is not, but this is truly a majestic environment to look at, all the rooms are completely different from one another. The art direction is a key quality and hopefully, an Oscar nomination is waiting.

Now, as to the plot and the characters, Johnson still succeeds in giving us a complex mystery to solve, while analyzing different colorful players with key distinct personalities. Everyone is at their best here, as it was obvious they had great fun on the set. I had high expectations for this film, but I have to agree with most fans and confirm that the climax of the first film was more satisfying. The answers given at the end of Glass Onion are not as mind-blowing and I could see the answers coming a few miles away. However, we must still give it to Johnson, it was well-delivered.

The cast of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery [Credit: Netflix]

Once more, the actor who shines the brightest here is definitely Daniel Craig. With an additional dose of humor and friendly charismatic features, it’s impossible to hate him as the famous detective. We also get some answers regarding his personal life, including a celebrity cameo in his bungalow that is so juicy! He shines so brightly, even more so here than in Knives Out, which makes it so clear that fans will want him back for more cases to solve. This is an interesting moment in Daniel’s career, his job and ad choices speak for themselves: he wants to leave behind the straight and conservative James Bond appearance he showed to the world since 2006. Don’t know what I mean? Watch that video commercial for Belevedere Vodka that was shot and directed by Taika Waititi, so good! Also, props to Edward Norton who gives a very funny and sometimes accurate portrayal of what a tech fortune can do to modern CEOs. We see parallels to real billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in his Miles Bron, and crazy investment ideas that are too weird to comprehend. Like me, you’ll think of Musk’s interesting gamble with Twitter the same as Bron’s exploitation of volatile natural resources.

Edward Norton and the cast of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery [Credit: Netflix]

Now, I’m sure you want to ask the big question: is Glass Onion better than the original Knives Out? The simple answer would be ‘almost’. This is a decent and honorable sequel and it sure requires multiple viewings to deeply appreciate it. Although I did find it more appealing visually than the first film, and it makes better use of Benoit Blanc’s character, the main mystery resolves itself in a more simplistic way that might disappoint a few fans. Don’t get me wrong, the plot remains complex and the clues delivered are not always 100% clear the first time we hear them.

You won’t have to wait long to see Glass Onion in the comfort of your living room, Netflix will release it on December 23rd, right in time to enjoy it with your family during the Holidays. One of the best and most entertaining movies of the year, you can be sure of that! Elementary, my dear Watson.

Dave Bautista and Madelyn Cline in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery [Credit: Netflix]

Final Grade: 8/10

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