Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc returns to the screen in Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the follow-up to the hugely successful and inexplicably well-regarded 2019 mystery, Knives Out.
Knives Out was a perfectly serviceable film with a great cast – but it wasn’t as funny or as clever as it wanted to be. Glass Onion is more of the same – an enjoyable enough romp with a committed cast which doesn’t break any new ground within the genre. Riffing on Agatha Christie novels and with a title taken from a song by The Beatles, Glass Onion feels like a screenplay cobbled together from whatever cultural references Rian Johnson had at his fingertips.
This time around the ensemble cast is made up of Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista. And this time around a collection of rich and vacuous media personalities descend on the private island belonging to Norton’s tech billionaire for a murder mystery weekend. As you can guess, things don’t go to plan and soon Blanc is trying to solve a real murder among a collection of highly likely suspects.
Forgoing the autumnal colours of its predecessor, the Greek Island set Glass Onion is a bright and colourful affair that feels much bigger in scope and budget. This ensures that Daniel Craig gets the opportunity to wear a plethora of outré outfits which are a far cry from his suave James Bond suits. Benoit Blanc is the antithesis of Bond’s subdued self-control, allowing the actor to cut loose and show a very different side to his screen persona. The rest of the cast also get the opportunity to camp things up as a selection of vapid, vain characters who all range from entertaining to irritating at any given moment.
There’s a certain irony that both Knives Out and Glass Onion take pot shots at the rich given that Rian Johnson secured $100 million to make this sequel and a third film in the franchise. I’m untrusting of the morals here, curious to the true meaning behind Johnson’s pro-proletariat agenda – made all the more curious that he’s recently worked with the biggest beasts in the entertainment industry (Netflix, Disney, Lucasfilm). Maybe Benoit Blanc can solve that mystery in the next film.
I enjoyed Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery well enough. It’s diverting entertainment, although its 139 minute running time is 20 minutes too long and it takes too much time to get the plot in motion. A smattering of cameos and in-jokes run the gamut from cute to eye-rolling that give Glass Onion a kitchen sink quality that will make some chuckle and others groan, but that’s the nature of the beast.
A third Knives Out Mystery is a certainty, but I hope that it’s a little smarter and a little less bloated – but I’m not holding my breath for that.