NOTE: No spoilers here.
“It’s a dangerous thing to mistake speaking without thought as speaking the truth.”
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is the second installment in the hit whodunnit film series where Daniel Craig reprises his role as Detective Benoit Blanc.
Directed, written, and co-produced by the returning Rian Johnson, the colorful characters, amazing locations, and twisting plot provide huge interest plus audiences are treated with cameo characters and real life cameos throughout. Even the celebrity mentions, inside jokes, “product placements,” and game mentions are hilarious.
Logic is always a key element in mysteries but pay close attention to character motivations (Blanc included) and their reactions to the events throughout the two hour and 20-minute plot.
This film begins on May 13, 2020 during COVID-19 quarantine and Blanc sets the early tone perfectly. “I’m like a fueled up car with nowhere to go,” he says as everyone’s aching to get out.
The next events in the film lead to an eclectic group (Blanc included) taking a trip to a private island near Greece. The characters involved are Duke, a YouTube star and men’s rights activist (Dave Bautista), Whiskey, Duke’s girlfriend and assistant (Madelyn Cline), Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), Birdie Jay, a former supermodel turned fashion designer (Kate Hudson), Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Janelle Monáe), technology billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), and scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), plus Birdie’s assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) and Derol (Noah Segan who frequents many of Rian Johnson’s films).
Jackie Hoffman (Only Murders in the Building, Feud series) has a short but memorable role as Duke’s mother. Miles’ assistant is also portrayed by a familiar actor while Dallas Roberts portrays Claire’s husband.
As the plot thickens, Blanc wisely lulls potential suspects with his southern drawl then quickly displays his intelligent solving skills much earlier and more often than the previous installment. Craig’s intelligence comes through easily while writers boost his appeal and complexity when he admits his limitations as he mentions “I’m not Batman” and “I’m not a bodyguard” on two different occasions.
Filmmakers keep a strong focus on the plot though audiences do get a revealing sequence where Blanc first appears on screen displaying some of his characteristics.
Later Blanc even reveals a weakness…well, more like an annoyance when he says “I’m very bad at dumb things. It’s my Achilles’ heel. Ticking boxes, running around, searching all the rooms. It’s just a terrible terrible game.”
Johnson and his crew often incorporate background antics and sight gags as cinematographer Steve Yedlin, also from the crew of the first film, provides sharp visuals especially in the large sequences thick with action. By the end, the surprises and revelations are coming so quickly that one character even says, “What is reality?”
Returning musical composer Nathan Johnson enhances the film and sets the tone with the solo piano beginning then continues with pitch perfect accentuations that reflect each scene’s emotions and tone. One repeated sequence of gunplay features some of the best gun sounds ever though the shooter’s skill and accuracy is questionable once revealed.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery comes highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) and is rated PG-13 for strong language, some violence, sexual material, and drug content. Can’t wait for the next installment.
Netflix had a unique release strategy with an initial theatrical run (one of their biggest) beginning November 23 and the streaming debut on Dec. 23…it’s a challenge to avoid spoilers (none in this review). This wonderful film premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.