Even funnier than and just as clever as the first film, GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY is an enjoyable crime thriller loaded with laughs.
I remember walking out of the original film in 2019 saying “I hope they make 100 more of these with Daniel Craig”. Well, he’s back as famous Southern detective Benoit Blanc, a fascinating mix of eccentricity, quick wit and a Poirot-like talent for sizing up potential suspects.
The film takes place in the summer of 2020, with the world spinning slowly into Covid over-reaction and paranoia. The film has plenty of fun poking fun at a world going mad.
We meet Kate Hudson as Birdie Jay, an influencer with more followers than brains. She’s holed up in her luxurious penthouse with the hundreds of friends in her pod, which manages to include some fun celebrity cameos. Her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) has a full-time job protecting Birdie Jay from her own stupidity.
Dave Bautista is a gun-toting online promo machine, pushing freedom and ED medicine in equal doses. His girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) rarely leaves his side, even when his live online sessions are interrupted by his Ma, played by Jackie Hoffman in a side-splitting performance that reminded me of every time we’ve seen her on Broadway. She’s a reliable scene stealer.
Senator Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn) goes live on CNN looking professional from the waist up, while her husband and children spiral in the next room. Scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) is wrestling to keep his boss in check. His employer is billionaire genius Miles Bron, with his hands in the internet, rockets, cars…hmmm, that sounds familiar. Edward Norton Jr. is a blast as Bron, squeezing every bit of ego, false bravado, and pretentiousness possible out of Miles.
Meanwhile, Benoit Blanc sits in his bathtub, bored in isolation and anxious for an intellectual challenge. He gets one when a mysterious box arrives containing an elaborate series of challenges and games to access its core, where an invitation from Miles sits for a murder mystery at his massive, private Greek island.
All the characters receive the same box, as does Miles former and estranged business partner Andi Brand, well played by Janelle Monae.
Everyone comes together at Bron’s estate, The Glass Onion, a stunning, futuristic testament to Bron’s wealth.
Bron announces that he’s staging his own murder in an elaborate set up that will take them the entire weekend to solve and that’s when the fun really kicks in. I’ll say no more, just let it unfold in all its glory.
Like a classic Agatha Christie tale, the story folds back on itself, flashing back to the same events from a different angle, or back in time to flesh out events you only thought you understood.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson crafts a brilliant tale, with plenty of surprises, genuine laughs, and excellent dialogue.
Craig is clearly relishing being free of Bond. Benoit is the anti-Bond, but OO7 fans will note a sly tribute to one of the most tragic fashion choices Connery ever made in the role. Benoit’s hate for the Clue board game and comments on Birdie Jay’s intelligence are high points.
Celebrity cameos are plentiful but never distracting and it’s the shortest 140-minute film in memory as it races to a very satisfying conclusion.
Nathan Johnson’s music score is flawless and the photography by Steve Yedlin (San Andreas, Looper) captures every dark & mysterious corner.
Johnson and Craig have created a fascinating character in Benoit Blanc. Like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot before him, Blanc is destined to star in many clever films. If they’re all as enjoyable as GLASS ONION, we’ll be there at opening night every time.
No sophomore slump here, it gets a solid A.