‘Knives Out’ Sequel ‘Glass Onion’ Review: Daniel Craig Looks Sharp in Hilarious Whodunit
It’s no mystery whydeserves a sequel. The sharp thriller killed off at the box office in 2019, providing the perfect reason for director Rian Johnson and star Daniel Craig to return for the sequel, streaming on Netflix this Christmas.
But even with Netflix’s money offering the opportunity, can they get away with murder again?
Fans of the first movie will be prepared for a mystery with a twist, which means the sequel has to work harder to surprise – running the risk of trying too hard, losing the audience in the complexity, or straining the credulity. Luckily, though, Johnson’s second shot at supersleuth Benoit Blanc is another twist-filled treat, playing with the whodunnit genre while still being seriously funny.
In a first for the streaming service, Netflix aired Glass Onion in major US movie chains in November, but only for one week. It’s streaming on Netflix from Friday, December 23, and it’s a perfect seasonal treat to congregate around the TV.
Craig returns as sleazy detective Benoit Blanc, and this time he travels to Greece to investigate a star-studded new set. Edward Norton plays an ultra-rich tech brother gathering his buds (and hangers), played by Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe, Madelyn Cline, Jessica Henwick and Dave Bautista with a gun in his Speedos .
Craig first played suave detective Blanc during the home stretch of his time aswhile Knives Out was writer/director Rian Johnson’s first palace-cleansing film after his divisive Star Wars film . But now the two are free and clear of franchise baggage, and both seem to be gloating over the chance to play. Craig plays up White’s comedic eccentricities, reveling in post-Bond flamboyance (have you seen his fabulous new vodka commercial, by the way?).
Johnson, meanwhile, delights in layering the elaborate plot. The sunny reunion invitation comes in the form of a wooden puzzle box, and the whole movie is built from puzzles within puzzles.
This multi-layered construction adds up to a hugely satisfying murder mystery. Among the suspects, Norton is devilishly bland, Hudson is in great shape as a loud-mouthed fashionista, and Bautista again excels at revealing hidden depths playing a manosphere mountain man. Monáe gives Craig a hard time as a character who – no, I said too much. You will have to follow the clues yourself.
Layered in the whodunit is sharp satire that confuses the wealthy people who are often the subject of these kinds of mysteries. On the surface, you can bask in the indirect pleasure of golden sunshine and golden skin, lavish surroundings and glamorous outfits – the first film’s muted colors and cozy sweaters look positively old-fashioned next to the scale and style. excess of the sequel. But like other recent films that ravage the lifestyles of the shamelessly rich, like Triangle of Sadness, Bodies Bodies Bodies or The Menu, part of the fun is knowing that these fat cats are about to get their reward.
At the same time, Glass Onion is almost, almost, just a tiny bit on the verge of being a little self-righteous. There’s a mandatory Alexa joke and some funny but uncomfortable COVID gags if you think about it, and just an overall vibe that sails perilously close to the territory of the latest Ocean’s 11 movies, where big stars (and cameos) smile at smirking about a high-priced vacation and expecting you to thank them for it.
But Glass Onion incisively invites you to laugh (albeit bitterly) at these preposterous entrepreneurs and influencers. Where the first film aimed for the cloistered oblivion of inherited wealth, the sequel turns to the modern-day nouveau riche: desperate social media gurus, greedy politicians, and deeply thoughtless tech types.
These are the kind of people who excuse their self-centered gaffe as “disruption” and confuse their success as the product of their own mystical “genius” rather than selfish insensitivity supported by generous portions of other people’s money – and a lot of stupid sheer luck. It’s fun to watch them fall apart when the knives come out, but more than that, it’s a scathing critique of individuals who do things without understanding the consequences and weigh everyone down with the fallout. Johnson is probably watchingwith much amusement (mixed, probably, with abject despair).
The original Knives Out was a loving tribute to the classic murder mystery genre, with a twist. It’s a tough trick to pull off twice: when you watch a whodunit, you pretty much know how it’s going to be solved, and now we’re ready to watch this movie for the twist.
The first Knives Out might have been an original curiosity, but resonated with audiences and earned Johnson a 2020 Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. While gently sending up the classic thriller, it inspired a minor revival in the genre. (Yes, Murder on the Orient Express did a comparable box office two years earlier, but don’t tell me Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot would have gotten a franchise if not for the success of Knives Out.) Netflix was certainly impressed enough to cast apparently. Which brings us to Glass Onion’s only unsolved mystery: Can Rian Johnson and Benoit Blanc still kill?
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