Glass Onion Review: Daniel Craig shines in the Knives Out sequel

Glass Onion Review: Daniel Craig shines in the Knives Out sequel

(Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF)

(Credit: Courtesy of TIFF)

Glass Onion is an “extremely entertaining” sequel to Knives Out, writes Caryn James, with a new cast that includes Janelle Monáe, Edward Norton and Kate Hudson.

D.

Daniel Craig is present. To say too much about Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery would ruin this hugely entertaining sequel to 2019’s Knives Out. Where the original depended on weird family members turned into murder suspects being investigated by world-renowned detective Benoit Blanc Craig’s hilarious and over-the-top, Glass Onion relies on the plot’s secrets, lies, misunderstandings, and wrong identities. Filled with delicious cameos and loaded with more comical moments than the previous film – even a slow trickle of hot sauce becomes suspenseful and fun – Glass Onion brings a new cast of suspects, puts them on the private island of a billionaire in Greece and send Blanc to find out what they’re up to.

More so:
– ‘A delicious and fresh new romantic comedy’
– “A spectacular and action-packed epic”
– A “hellish interpretation of the myth of Marilyn”

Edward Norton plays the tycoon, Miles Bron, whose company is involved in scientific research and space travel and to whom Norton places the cheerful trust of Elon Musk. Bron invites a group of old friends to be his guests on the island, where they will play a murder game with their host as the victim. Of course, real murder must be looming, but Johnson’s clever script is way ahead of that.

Glass onion: a mystery chases away

Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Janelle Monae, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson
Duration of the film: 2 hours and 19 minutes

Start by defining the heterogeneous assortment of characters. They each receive a gift box from Bron that appears to contain a solid block of wood, but actually hides an elaborate set of puzzles and her invitation. Among the guests, whose names barely register, Kate Hudson is as vibrant as a once famous model with a tendency to say and tweet ethnic slurs. Leslie Odom Jr is as serious as a brilliant scientist who works for Bron and receives old faxes from him – a sign of the billionaire’s eccentricity – at all hours. Dave Bautista plays a gunman rights advocate with a million followers on social media, and Kathryn Hahn is the liberal governor of Connecticut. Somehow, they were once all friends who regularly met at their local bar, The Glass Onion. It’s hard to imagine, but then no one looks at a comic murder mystery to check its plausibility. Unexpected guests include Janelle Monáe’s character Andi, who co-founded Bron’s company only to be left out. And there’s Blanc, whose motive for joining the group is one of the film’s secrets.

Bron’s house is an extraordinary contraption, with a glass dome on top, called The Glass Onion in homage to their old bar. Despite the elaborate setting, the film is shot in the direct style of a television mystery. Bron has paintings of Matisse and Degas everywhere, and even the real Mona Lisa, or so he says. Of course, nothing anyone says here can be taken for what it is, and a major plot deviation in the middle changes everything. The bewildered Andi is right when she says, “This never happens in Clue.”

Craig’s deliberately rotten southern accent is a bit toned down from the first Knives Out, but Blanc still says things like “Fiddlesticks” and “Hell’s Bells”, and still masquerades as a clueless gentleman that we know he’s not. Craig’s performance is cunning and joyful, and the film’s biggest flaw is that there is too little of him, as Johnson often shifts the spotlight from Blanc to other characters.

Among them, Monáe is a prominent one, with Andi glaring among friends who abandoned her when she sued Bron. It could be said that corporate greed and deceit are themes here, but this slight mystery wouldn’t hold that weight. After a murder has occurred and some secrets are revealed, Hudson’s character yells, “What is reality?” – a fun, perfectly delivered line that comes and goes fleetingly as it should. The film’s semi-attachment to reality is one of Johnson’s lines. The story is set in May 2020, with everyone, especially Blanc, going crazy during the lockdown for Covid. And it had only been two months! When guests arrive in Greece, a convenient plot device allows them to ditch the masks.

It probably won’t be long before spoilers start coming online, but Johnson is early too. Glass Onion will be just as fun to watch a second time, knowing even more than Blanc.

★★★ ☆☆

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will be released on Netflix on December 23rd.

Do you like movies and TV? Joint BBC TV and Film Club on Facebook, a community for film buffs from all over the world.

If you want to comment on this story or anything else you’ve seen on BBC Culture, go to ours Facebook page or send us a message Twitter.

And if you liked this story, Sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.