Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr, Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista
Run Time: 139 mins
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story is a murder mystery sequel to 2019’s Knives Out and once again stars Daniel Craig as southern-fried detective Benoit Blanc. Knives Out attracted a very positive reception, performing well at the box office and Netflix quickly paid close to $500 million for the rights to churn out two standalone sequels. This is the first of them and sees Craig reunite with Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. I wasn’t as hot on Knives Out as others and found its second half frustrating and its final twist obvious.
Craig’s detective is the only common denominator between the two films, with Johnson assembling a totally fresh ensemble cast so you don’t need to have seen Knives Out to enjoy Glass Onion. The mystery is set on a lavish, private Greek island this time around, home to tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). He has invited Blanc, alongside with some of his friends to take part in a murder mystery-themed weekend. This expectedly takes a dark turn to reality and Blanc gets to utilise his sleuthing skills. Johnson sets the film in the height of the coronavirus pandemic and Bron bears many uncomfortable similarities to Elon Musk.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story showcases both Rian Johnson’s best and worst qualities as a director. There’s a lot of fun to be had and Johnson takes some risks, although some aspects of the storytelling are rather clumsy. On a first watch, the first hour seems rather insignificant but Johnson re-contextualises its events in the second half. Its tone is rather boisterous and I didn’t particularly resonate with any of the contemporary quips. Generally, there’s an empty and vapid quality to Glass Onion, despite being lushly shot by Johnson-regular Steve Yedlin.
There’s some fun performances – Daniel Craig is great again as Benoit Blanc and of the rest of the cast, Janelle Monáe and Dave Bautista are the other highlights. Monáe’s given quite a meaty role and Bautista’s men’s rights YouTuber plays to the actor’s physical strengths. There’s a fun cameo too from Ethan Hawke, which I had hoped would amount to more.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story isn’t as much fun as its predecessor, which I also found to be overrated. That said, it’s a diverting enough escape this Christmas and I admire Johnson’s ambition to attempt to further deconstruct the murder mystery genre, even if the finished product isn’t particularly accomplished.