Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
by George Wolf
A good set of knives is always welcome around the holiday season. And while the new set from Rian Johnson is not quite as pointed, it’s still sharp, just as much fun, and even a good bit funnier.
2019’s Knives Out showed Johnson to be a new master of the whodunit. He skewered the 1% with wonderfully wry humor as he kept us engrossed in the deconstruction of a twisty murder mystery led by the fascinating Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig).
Craig is back as the world’s greatest detective, one who’s suffering from a pandemic funk. The 2020 lockdown has Blanc itching for a new challenge. A strange puzzle box delivered to his door is the first step toward a satisfying scratch.
It’s an invite to the private Greek island of tech wizard Miles Bron (Edward Norton, a perfect billionaire man baby). Musk – er, I mean Miles – has gathered his old gang of buddies, who call themselves “The Disruptors,” for a lavish murder party. Can anyone hope to solve the mystery the brilliant Miles has concocted?
Blanc probably can. So why was he invited?
Good question. But the real joy of Glass Onion isn’t just finding the answers, it’s Johnson’s skill at peeling back all the layers of doubt and suspicion along the way.
But there’s another party guest who’s even more of a surprise. Andi (Janelle Monáe) had a serious falling out with Miles years ago, so the financial ties that bind the rest of The Disrupters to his ego-driven whims no longer apply.
But for fashion model Birdie (Kate Hudson), politician Claire (Kathryn Hahn), “alpha bro” blogger Duke (Dave Bautista) and scientist Lionel (Leslie Odom, Jr.), kissing Miles’s ring has long been part of the job description.
And that allows Johnson plenty of space to sink his blades into some perfect poster children for the vapid, self-important, privileged and clueless class. Admittedly, Glass Onion‘s fruit seems to hang a little lower than the original film, but the fun is still contagious.
Some well-placed cameos (including sweet farewells to both Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury), obnoxious name-dropping (“Jeremy Renner’s small batch hot sauce!”) and one “I’m not here” live-in slacker named Derol (Noah Segan) add to the madcap zest. Craig puts all of it in his expertly tailored breast pocket while he steals the whole show.
Blanc is more flamboyant and fascinating this time, and Craig doesn’t waste one delicious chance to sell it. Blanc’s growing disgust with the worship of ignorant dickishness may not be especially original but it is tremendously rewarding to watch – almost as much as the case solving itself.
And man, Johnson has mad mystery skills. His script is funny, smart and intricate, always staying one step ahead of your questions while he builds the layers of whos and dunnits, only to tear them down and build anew.
No one’s claiming he invented this genre, but two mysteries down, you could say he’s well on his way to perfecting it.
Who is? Rian Johnson or Benoit Blanc?