Rian Johnson returns to Netflix with another Knives Out thriller—a sequel to his beloved murder mystery franchise starring Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc. While last time we saw the detective take on a death in an obnoxious family, this time around, he’s determined to solve a crime among friends. The film contains a star-studded cast and some good old-fashioned murder mystery fun. Yet, it doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessor thanks to a lackluster “eat the rich” concept with insufferable and poor performances. Glass Onion isn’t as clever as it thinks it is, but that’s because the painfully annoying acting yields dead giveaways in the most inopportune moments.
Daniel Craig stars as the charming and clever detective Benoit Blanc in this direct follow-up to Knives Out. After an invitation to a private island in Greece arrives on his doorstep from tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), he ventures off for a murder mystery party of a lifetime. There, he meets Birdie (Kate Hudson), Peg (Jessica Henwick), Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), Duke (Dave Batista), Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), Claire (Kathryn Hahn), and Helen (Janelle Monáe). They make up a group of long-time friends who’ve experienced bumps in the road to wealth. When someone among them turns up dead, mayhem ensues. And it’s up to Blanc to solve the mystery.
Glass Onion is mediocre
Glass Onion is a mediocre follow-up to Knives Out. There’s no use in tiptoeing around that. The story doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor was it expected to. But there are far too many components of Johnson’s sequel that screams “try hard” and not enough that leans into the “damn this is a really good time” for me. Towards the end of the film, Blanc, annoyed and full of fervor, declares that it’s “all so dumb.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he, right there in that moment, could somehow read my mind.
The biggest issue I’ve had with the film is the characters. Sure, by this second time around, I fully suspected to be presented with another group I’d love to hate. But where Knives Out succeeded in providing us with ludicrous and hilarious family dynamics and interactions, Glass Onion gave us a bunch of rich people with no real chemistry and who simply exist to be royal pains. To make matters worse, are we as viewers really supposed to believe that this same group of people—who would throw their closest friend under the bus to make a quick buck—could turn around so quickly and be remorseful for their wrongdoings?…
Not one chance in hell. It comes off disingenuous and empty on its apparent promises of justice and “eating the rich.” Most importantly, the abrupt damage control by the film’s end to showcase that these same types of people are willing to come around and accept consequences to their actions after they reveal the truth seems silly—especially in today’s climate.
Murder mystery fun
If not for the typical genre tropes that factor into Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion as well as the beautiful set design that enabled me to forget about my frustrations, I’d go as far to say that this movie irritated me thanks to the acting. Rian Johnson should have directed his cast to practice restraint when it comes to their roles and concentrated that energy on truly saying something about power dynamics and “eating the rich.”
Luckily, the script enables Craig to dive deeper into his character and reveal sides of himself that will appeal to audiences. It’s fun seeing Craig let loose in this way, and thankfully he was up for the task. Monae is also a standout, navigating the various intricacies of her role with ease. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for everyone else. Perhaps it’s too easy to blame them for their performances because they weren’t given much to do besides exist extravagantly and regurgitate their lines in the most annoying ways possible. Because in reality, their characters are thinner than the tension that was supposed to be in this script, and it felt tiresome and silly.
Janelle Monáe is a standout
I would love to give Glass Onion a third chance. Maybe I’m expecting too much out of a film that is simply designed to immerse oneself in the murder mystery fun while seeing an asshole get what’s coming to them in the process. But nothing I’ve seen the first or second time makes me want to. The film is way longer than it needs to be, and the performances exemplify pesky caricatures of the rich and privileged. And even with these obnoxious distractions disguised as compelling feats dispersed throughout this traditionally fun genre, Glass Onion was boring. There’s no need for a third attempt to change my mind.
See the trailer below for Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out mystery: