Saturday 24 December 2022

Film Review: Glass Onion


Daniel Craig is back as Southern detective Benoit Blanc in Rian Johnson's Glass Onion – but can this European mystery live up to the high bar set by 2019's Knives Out?

Wind the clock back to November 2019, and one film was the talk of Tinseltown – Rian Johnson's $40 million movie Knives Out was making serious bank, raking in an impressive $312 million worldwide and minting a new murder mystery maestro in Daniel Craig's smooth-talking, Foghorn Leghorn-sounding detective, Benoit Blanc. 

It seemed like only a matter of time that it would spawn a sequel – but I don't think anyone could have predicted Netflix swooping in and scoring the rights to two sequels for a scarcely believable $469 million.  

But here we are, three years later and Glass Onion – which takes its title from a song from The Beatles' White Album – has arrived on Netflix, after a brief but buzzy stint in cinemas last month. In it, Johnson has swapped the chilly autumnal New England setting of the first film for the sun-drenched shorelines of Greece, as Blanc is swept up in a seriously strange story that centres around elusive tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) and a group of his business partners and associates. 

Bron is hosting a murder mystery party, and he's invited some of his nearest and dearest to take part – politician Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jnr), Twitch personality Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), supermodel Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and former business partner Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monae). As you might expect, each member of Miles' posse possess a uniquely dangerous motive to want him out of the picture, which is why Blanc's unexpected arrival causes such a stir.

Soon enough, someone winds up dead and it's up to Blanc to untangle the various threads. But this being a Rian Johnson film, there's plenty of duplicitous double-backs and reversals to keep you guessing – so much so, that you'll immediately want to watch it again, to see how it all ties together. Spoiler alert: it does, seamlessly.

Glass Onion is written and directed with such glee, that you can almost hear Johnson giggling wryly to himself during production. So sharp and so smart, it's definitely sillier than Knives Out, not to mention more outlandish. 

Bron – and by extension, his lavish Greek pad – is a caricature of buffoonish billionaires (paging Mr Musk...), so Johnson is having a lot of fun poking fun at the rich, the famous and their kooks and quirks. Norton, to his credit, just nails it – he's note-perfect a dim-witted and self-obsessed tech mogul who delights in renting the real Mona Lisa or shipping his supercar to a remote Greek island where it will sit, just gathering dust. 

Similarly, Hudson is hilarious as this vapid, two sandwiches short of a picnic supermodel. But the film's MVP is definitely Monae, who has a lot to do and I can't expand on that without getting into spoiler territory. 

I guess the ultimate question is, is Glass Onion better than Knives Out? To that I say, it doesn't really matter, does it – not when they're both this good, this entertaining, this rewatchable. Glass Onion is another hoot, another tight and twisty noggin-scratcher that scratches that 'clever movies for adults' itch. Put me down for the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that...

The Verdict: 9/10

Another home run for Johnson and another delightful performance from Craig. Glass Onion is hilarious, gripping, smart and rewarding from start to finish. 

Glass Onion is streaming on Netflix right now.

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