Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

By Christian DiMartino

Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is one of more purely enjoyable films of the year so far; a film with a bit on its mind, but mostly, it just wants to deliver upon a good time. In this case, it’s kind of a great time. The film had a limited theatrical run this past week, and I was fortunate to catch it. But when it hits Netflix near the end of December, you’re going to want to take this opportunity. It surely is a treat.

I revisited the first Knives Out a few weeks ago, which I hadn’t seen since its release in 2019. Feels like a lifetime ago, considering the movie climate right now. That movie was a blast: a star-studded, funny, intricately written whodunit that was both a riff and a homage to Agatha Christie with a delightful Daniel Craig performance at the center of it. There was also a bit of political commentary to go with it. Glass Onion basically follows the same formula, but this time in an exotic, unique location. Shoot, if it ain’t broke.

Except this isn’t a rehash. For me, this actually feels like a better time, if maybe not quite a better movie. Though, to be fair, I think I like Glass Onion as much as Knives Out. The flaw of Glass Onion is in its design. The title has two meanings: Edward Norton’s Miles Bron has a giant, awe-inspiring glass dome in one of his buildings at his giant mansion island thingy; the other I’ll leave to Craig’s Benoit Blanc to explain when you get around to seeing it. But basically, I knew who the killer was with about 50 minutes to go. Alas, I didn’t really care, because what Johnson has cooked up here is so much fun, and it’s so impeccably written that the journey getting to it is worth it. Particularly because it’s got a number of surprises and tricks up its sleeve (cameos, twists, etc.).

It’s kind of hard to talk about the success of Glass Onion without ruining it, so I’ll be keeping it brief. But like Knives Out, it’s pretty much Blanc and an attractive younger woman (the first one was Ana De Armas, here it’s Janelle Monae) versus a group of unlikable (but winningly, entertainingly unlikable) people. Said people are friends of Bron, who is massively wealthy. His friends include:

  • Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.) who works closest to Miles. Great of a talent as Odom Jr. is, he’s weirdly underused here.
  • Duke (Dave Bautista), who is a pro-male YouTube influencer with his girlfriend Whisky (Madelyn Cline).
  • Claire (Kathryn Hahn), a senator up for election.
  • Birdie (Kate Hudson), a fashion icon (and an idiot) who has been in an out of trouble for racial insensitivity. Hudson is magnificent in this, two thumbs way up.

Specifically set in May 2020 (the lack of awareness some of these people have is made pretty clear from the start), these people receive a cryptic set of puzzles from Miles. After unlocking them, they receive a letter stating that they’re being invited to Miles’ island in Greece, and they are going to apparently be solving his murder. Also invited is Andi (Monae), Bron’s former business partner who recently had an uncomfortable legal battle with him. Also invited is the world renowned Blanc, who Bron apparently didn’t invite. They’re all brought to this island, Blanc suspects that any of these people are actually capable of murder, and… someone dies.

The production design from Rick Heinrichs is really unique and Oscar worthy. Actually I feel like that’s a pretty apt way to describe Glass Onion. I don’t really want to dive too into it, but watching this movie is such a delightful treat that I barely noticed two and a half hours had gone by. I benefitted from going in mostly blind, to the point where, I didn’t even know who the victim was. Craig is such a charmer, and the rest of the cast (the Odom Jr. issue aside) is really excellent; I was very happy to spend time with Norton and Hudson again, in particular. It’s a very entertaining, funny little movie that just delivered upon the great time you’d expect to have at it. I’m kind of blank on what else there is to say. I hear that it might get a theatrical re-release next month. I highly advise you seek it out, and see it the way it was intended to be seen.

I will say this though: Benoit Blanc may or may not be in a relationship with a man named Philip, who is played by an actor I love more than myself, and I gasped when he appeared in the movie. I won’t spoil the surprise, but you need to get the two of them together for the third movie. Have them in the Swiss Alps or something. Rian Johnson, you may take my notes as long as I receive partial credit. Much thanks.


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