Glass Onion (2022): Iconically Layered


The sequel to the 2019 Knives Out movie, Glass Onion is a lighter, quirkier whodunit packed with silly gags and bright colors. Not perfect, but iconically clever.

A group of modern-day celebrities get together for their annual weekend getaway in a luxurious Greek Island residence. The theme is Agatha Christie-inspired, “solve a murder mystery.” As low-hanging fruit is supposed to be funny or topical, all of the friends are supposed to be influencers (or ‘Disruptors’).

Director Rian Johnson brilliantly takes the formula from his first “whodunit,” throws it all in a box, and shakes it up to produce fresh results — but is it as flavorful as we would like it to be?

Glass Onion upped its satire factor by a notch (e.g. the rich and powerful), which kind of pushed the mystery element to take a backseat as the audience shares the driver’s wheel. Daniel Craig reprises his role as master detective Benoit Blanc, who takes on a new case involving a tech billionaire and his friends. Edward Norton devoured the part he was given with passion. Some of the characters were less developed than the others and it felt like they didn’t add much overall. The “villain” and plot, while adequate, were not as compelling as in the first film.

Not to mention, Daniel Craig and Janelle Monae deliver the best performances. They’re each very smooth and natural, not archetypes. Their characters also share a very nice chemistry that works well within the story, much like Craig and Ana de Armas did in the first film.

The story’s fun satire on a slew of current idiotic trends, includes the calling out of self-proclaimed tech moguls. As the climax approaches we see that despite their colorful personalities, they are all quite dense and vain, and while it is amusing to mock them, as an audience we actually don’t care about any of them.

If hubris and half-baked ideas are any indication, Norton’s character Miles Bron appears to be loosely based on a well-known real-life car enthusiast and tech billionaire. To put it another way, the political forces that shape our world are permeated throughout Glass Onion.

Following that, there is a flashback in which the audience is allowed to catch up on previously unknown details of the characters. It’s difficult to say much without treading into spoiler territory, but the story doesn’t really pick up until the first murder occurs, which is quite a while in.

Does the overall mystery hold up? Most likely not. The subtle clues in the movie hint towards the twists and revelations. They could have made the plot more complicated by utilizing all of the characters and planting red herrings. When the concluding explanation turns out to be folly, it is only mildly satisfying.

Nonetheless, Glass Onion is a fine successor to Knives Out. It perfectly called out the arrogant idiots peddling nonsense and the phony “intellectuals” who have no idea what they’re talking about. All of this was appropriately set during the peak of the pandemic a few years ago when these talking heads were at their most dangerous.

Additionally, the climatic statue garden scene holds a heavy contextual presence in mirroring what was happening in 2020-21, with the toppling of privileged monuments to slavery and colonialism.

2 July, 2021: Captain James Cook statue is toppled | Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Daniel Craig is as astute as ever, and his impersonation of a southerner is fantastic. Kathryn Hahn’s performance was likable, as well as Dave Bautista’s portrayal of a gun brandishing alpha-male with insecurities was hilarious.

Glass Onion is indulgent with so many talented actors crammed into one scenic location with nothing substantial to do and it doesn’t hold a candle to Knives Out.

Overall an enjoyable film, that is fine for a single viewing and makes for a nice holiday watch with the family.

Rating: 7/10

Now streaming on Netflix.

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