Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

I don’t think I was as in on 2019’s Knives Out as much as the rest of the world was when it came out. Sure, it was a fun mystery film with a great cast but it’s one of those moments where I just felt like everyone else enjoyed it much more than I did. With the sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, I feel as tough this time around I’m going to be in the group shouting just how great this was.

Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, the world’s greatest detective, who is summoned to a murder mystery party on tech billionaire Miles Bron’s (Edward Norton) private island in the Aegean Sea alongside some of Bron’s closest friends. Among those on the island is fashion icon Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), Governer Clair Debella (Kathryn Hahn), scientist Lionel Toussanit (Leslie Odom Jr.), macho influencer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend/co-host Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), and Bron’s former business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe). Blanc is the only one on the island not in Bron’s inner circle of friends so his presence becomes all the more mysterious when the party evolves into an actual murder scene.

Writer/director Rian Johnson delivers yet another fun murder mystery filled with colorful characters, twists at every turn, and a satisfying conclusion. Combine all that wit the fact that every actor looks to be having an absolute blast in their roles this movie certainly has to rank among the more fun titles of the year. To me this film feels like the comedy has been dialed up from its predecessor which had no shortage of solid jokes and performances. There is a fair amount of “just accept it for what it is” in regards to the dynamics of the characters backstories and the current situations that bring them all to the island but Johnson’s script is so tight that every line of dialogue and action took is done so with purpose, leaving very little fat to trim. Even the film’s biggest narrative flaws, no spoilers, eventually come full circle to top off an incredible final act and payoff.

The bulk of the cast is at the top of their game for this one. Craig has started to really emerge as one of my favorite actors when he’s not playing James Bond because between Benoit Blanc and his role as Joe Bang in the Oceans Seven-Eleven comedy Logan Lucky in 2017 he really is at his best when he’s allowed to have fun on set. Norton, Hudson, and Monáe all deliver top tier performances as well, the former two of whom look like they’re having as much performing as they’ve had in years. Hahn and Odom are a little underutilized for my liking and Bautista is a riot in a very different role from what we’ve grown accustomed to from him. There are several fun cameos of note that seem to fit well into the story rather than just “hey, it’s so-and-so!” but I won’t spoil who exactly.

As far as awards go I think this is a film that needs to be taken seriously in multiple categories. Johnson’s script should be a serious contender in the Best Adapted Screenplay race and the production and costume designs should be in play, the former of which is one of the best parts of the film. Norton has been largely absent from awards season to date but as a three-time nominee killing it in a very different role for him I wouldn’t be surprised if he could somehow sneak his way into field of nominees. Hudson or Monáe need to be considered as well. This is perhaps the best work Hudson has done since Almost Famous and Monáe has been overlooked several times in her career and she gets plenty of meaty scenes in this film. With the Best Supporting Actress race this year being as open as it is there’s no reason either of them shouldn’t be under consideration. There’s also the slightest chance that it may find itself in the Best Picture race with other contenders on a downward trajectory.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am following the success of Knives Out but Glass Onion is no doubt one of the better films of the year. Not perfect, but pretty damn good. I’m sure Netflix is kicking themselves for how they handled the limited theatrical release of this film as I’m sure they left tens, if not hundreds, of millions on the table in doing so.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is now playing on Netflix.

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