Knives Out was a smash hit back in 2019. It was a clever whodunnit with an all-star cast.
Audiences loved it. The decision to make a sequel was a no-brainer.
The question was whether the sequel could possibly match the sizzle or success of the original. Most of the time, they don’t.
Which is why I’m happy to report that fans of Knives Out will not be disappointed in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
The recipe is whipped up again with all the familiar ingredients as well some sweet twists and turns. The key to a good murder mystery is to keep everyone—even the most die-hard fans—guessing until the very end.
What’s required is to offer up multiple motives and mess with everyone’s heads until the moment of the big reveal. Along the way you pretend to shine a light on all the evidence and clues when, in fact, you are leading the audience around by the nose and keeping them in the dark. We never tire of good murder mysteries, whether they are being played for gasps or laughs.
Glass Onion gives us a little of both, but mostly laughs. It is delightfully entertaining.
The setup involves an elaborately constructed cubic puzzle being delivered to a group of disconnected, unsuspecting people. The time frame is early pandemic, a detail that is nicely woven into the storyline.
We watch split-screen shots of each of them struggling to decipher their identical boxes only to find that they each contain an invitation to a billionaire’s private Greek island to attend a weekend murder mystery party.
Edward Norton plays Miles Bron, the young, eccentric billionaire who invites his handful of friends to an exclusive get-together every year. This year, they are being invited to solve a murder--his murder. You suspect it’s all a game, but you know that in movies like this the game eventually becomes an actual homicide.
And so, it does in Glass Onion. We know what’s in store. We just don’t know just who will die, how they will be killed, who will be suspected of the crime and who the killer will eventually turn out to be.
The guest list is a potpourri of characters played by Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Kathryn Hahn, and Leslie Odom, Jr. , just to name a few. And, of course, Daniel Craig as the world’s greatest detective (in the Knives Out universe), Benoit Blanc, who was the star of Knives Out.
To its credit, Glass Onion wastes no time going from zero to sixty in terms of establishing the premise and diving headlong into the story. What you assume would be the heart of this story turns out to be quick work for the supersleuth Benoit Blanc, who makes the murder mystery game look like child’s play, much to the dismay of the party’s host.
It’s a point of departure for a much more complicated plot that is actually told and then repeated in the movie. We see the story unfold and then we essentially watch the same events unfold a second time with the advantage of more detail and observation. It’s a very clever narrative move that works.
The ensemble cast also works in Glass Onion. The writing is crisp. The settings are sumptuous (movie billionaires always surround themselves with high-tech devices, lavish furniture and architecture and, in this case, some of the world’s most famous, most revered art). No spoilers, though it’s a bit of a stretch, even for an over-the-top escapist movie like this. That said, it becomes a running gag and figures heavily in the movie’s suspenseful climax.
Daniel Craig seems to be enjoying his newfound identity in his departure from the role of James Bond. The two characters are handsome and intelligent, and that’s about it. Apart from that, they really couldn’t be further apart, a point that must have been irresistible to Craig and his talent agent.
You either love or hate Craig’s take on the colorful Southern gentleman sleuth who largely remains a mystery-within-a-mystery himself. His thick southern drawl draws attention to itself to the point that you find yourself wanting to watch the behind-the-scenes moments of Craig and his dialect coach. It would be great if it was offered as a bonus chapter when Glass Onion is released on DVD.
It’s interesting that Benoit Blanc never really dominates the story. He’s used relatively sparingly, allowing the other characters to drag us down rabbit holes that ultimately go nowhere, as they should in movies like this.
In murder mysteries and murder mystery comedies, we want to be misled and mystified. It’s why we purchase a ticket. In the case of Glass Onion, it’s money well spent. Chalk it up as a very satisfying sequel.
Similar to the final moment at the end of the Bond movies, the end credits promise that Benoit Blanc will return.
Glass Onion is in theaters now.