Film Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

By Matthew Moorcroft

Highest Recommendation

  • Directed by Rian Johnson
  • Starring Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Dave Bautista
  • PG-13

The original Knives Out‘s breath of fresh air – and surprise box office success – was cut short by the news that Netflix had acquired the rights to it’s now two sequels. Part of Knives Out‘s own success in theaters, apart from it being an original murder mystery from a widely acclaimed director, was the crowd experience and the reactions it garnered from the audience, and Netflix’s release model ensured that this wouldn’t happen – at least until it got a limited theatrical release, which I sadly missed.

This is mostly a long winded way of saying that Netflix really screwed up here by giving this it’s standard release format, cause Glass Onion is so good and so widely entertaining that it deserves the big screen format. It’s a twisty, ingeniously written thrill ride that never lets up and ends up being one of the years best films in terms of sheer enjoyment value. And beyond that, it’s also yet another great take down of the rich and powerful, this time aimed squarely at tech moguls, corporations, and unbroken bond that these people have with each other for their own interests.

The setup is simple on it’s face. Benoit Blanc, our lovable detective, is mysteriously invited to tech billionaire Miles Bron’s private island, along with his group of friends, for a weekend of fun in the vein of a classic murder mystery. But then, of course, something goes wrong as it always does, though it’s not what you’d expect. In classic Rian Johnson fashion – always so keen to play with genre expectations – pulls the rug out from under you several times during this and you once again realize why he’s one of the best writers in the business today.

Indeed, Glass Onion is setup almost like an expertly laid out jigsaw puzzle, almost like the boxes you find at the start of the film. Each plot point laid out just perfectly and edited to fine tune perfection; especially once you hit the halfway point and the film shifts gears into a completely different movie. It’s hard to deny how effective all of it is, and once the entire plot is laid out in it’s stellar climax, it all makes sense and the film’s thesis is both laid clear while also setting the stage for one of the most cathartic final acts in cinema this year.

The cast is entirely game for this, particularly Monáe, who just kills it here. Her role is the most spoiler heavy of the bunch for various reasons but she has to do a lot here and she owns all of it with ease. She’s funny, intimidating, and genuinely heartfelt all at once and has great chemistry with Craig, whose now iconic portrayal of Blanc is once again delightful across the board. Norton is also fantastic in this, wonderfully slimey while also idiotic in a way that makes him hilarious to watch, and Bautista’s turn as a male Twitch influencer needs to be seen to be believed.

And it’s all led by Johnson’s impeccable attention to detail. The production design on this just pops, and the cinematography is as precise and crisp as ever – Steve Yedlin’s use of digital is still unmatched. And when the shit starts to really go down, the geography is so well laid out and every little nook and cranny is known by the audience that the action becomes as expertly placed series of Chevkov’s Guns just waiting to go off.

This is modern Agatha Christie at it’s absolute finest, and I don’t think there is anybody doing it better. While Rian Johnson has many other things on his plate at the moment, from shows and movies to even more Star Wars on the horizon, I hope he makes one of these every few years and allows us to revel in it’s wonderfully plotted glory. Loved, loved, loved every second of this and I sincerely hope he doesn’t stop.

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