GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY (2022) l Netflix | December 23, 2022
Starring: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monáe
Director: Rian Johnson
Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece for his latest case.
TIFF REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery delivers another wildly entertaining and brilliantly written whodunit mystery from Rian Johnson, that once again delivers an exhilarating ride full of wonderful performances, and tons of twists, turns and laughs to create one of the best films of the year.
Knives Out was a runaway success back in 2019, fully modernizing and revamping the whodunit mystery genre that audiences kept going back again and again to see it. All of this was due to Rian Johnson’s brilliant screenplay which captured what audiences loved about the genre and created such unforgettable characters. And even though we are leaving the Thrombey family behind, Johnson’s follow up is every bit as entertaining and outrageous, guaranteeing another hit film, even if it is one that won’t be experienced by enough on the big screen. This film revolves around tech billionaire Miles Bron who invites his closest friends and world renowned detective Benoit Blanc to his private Greek Island during the middle of the pandemic for a weekend getaway. However, the weekend quickly turns deadly when someone dies, and with no way off the island or for the authorities to land on the island, Blanc is on the case and must discover the identity of the killer before they claim another victim.
Once again, Johnson has conjured up another brilliant whodunit. Unlike the first film, there is no messed up family dynamic, instead focusing on a much smaller cast of rich asshole characters that have their reasons as to why they hate each other, providing any one of them with motive to be the killer. It’s a brilliant screenplay that distinguishes itself from the first film with a different narrative structure, while capturing everything that made the first film a runaway success, crafting a perfect sequel that is on par with the original. In terms of scale, this is a much grander film than the first, never for the sake of trying to out shine the original, but because Johnson has crafted such an elaborate shell game of a mystery this time. The mystery itself is wonderful, it kept me guessing the entire film as to who was the killer and their motive. Even though I did pick up on one of the key details to the reveal, I was so engaged by the film and the ride it was taking me on, that the clue didn’t fall into place until the final act reveal where I was kicking myself for not paying closer attention to it earlier on. The humour in the script is killer, perfectly mixing in over the top pandemic jokes, which could have flopped poorly like so many dated jokes of this type, as well as the bashing of the rich and powerful that Johnson wrote so well in the first film.
The production design and costumes are extraordinary, crafting a complete world within Bron’s private island mansion that is gorgeously captured with some truly sweeping cinematic shots. Nathan Johnson’s musical score once again is outstanding, truly matching the grandeur of the visuals of the film to create a bombastic and exhilarating wall of sound, especially in the film’s final act.
And the cherry on top of an already incredible film: the sensational ensemble cast. Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, with his outrageous Southern accent, to solve another murder. Craig felt completely at home in the character, even more so than he did after five films as James Bond, delivering what could be the best performance of his entire career to date. He is absolutely hilarious, while keeping the intelligence and observant traits of his character at the forefront of this truly wild ride.
Joining the cast is Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick and Madelyn Cline, all of whom are exceptional. The standout of the new cast members is Monáe, who is firing on all cylinders in her complex and wildly entertaining role. She gives without a doubt the performance of the film and had the theatre at the World Premiere last night bursting with laughter, gasping and applauding her performance throughout the film. Norton is great as the egotistical and self-centered tech billionaire, because there are few actors who can play a complete asshole like he can. Bautista’s riff on a social media influence was goofy and over the top in the best way possible, tapping into the dry sense of humour he brought to the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Odom Jr., Henwick and Cline are a lot of fun and have some great comedic moments, even if they are more minor characters in the ensemble. I have always loved Hahn and she brings that wicked comedic mind of hers to the role, while infusing it with a sinister undertone that makes her perfect for the power hungry politician she is portraying.
But aside from Monáe, Hudson was my second favourite performance of the film. Hudson was born to play the role of Birdie Jay, a former model turned fashion designer. She revels in the role of the “it” girl, capturing the simple mindedness of Birdie with ease and complete believability, while at the same time being a raging bitch. It is dream casting for the role, and Hudson delivered two of my favourite moments of the film which still have me laughing almost twenty four hours later. While Monáe is almost a lock for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for the Golden Globes, don’t count out Hudson because she was an absolute scene stealer from start to finish! Plus, there are tons of great cameos throughout the film which are either for pure entertainment purposes or to pay tribute to the greats of the whodunit genre.
It’s hard to fathom, but Glass Onion delivers on every level that the original did, in ways matching and even topping the first film, even if some moments of the original film were more memorable. Johnson is two for two so far, and I cannot wait to see what he cooks up for the third and mystery and the rest of the series as him, Craig and Netflix have said they are committed to this series as long as audiences keep loving the films. And if they continue to be this good, there is no reason why we won’t be seeing Knives Out films for the next two decades! Absolutely hilarious from start to finish featuring an wonderful mystery from Rian Johnson that will have you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the big reveal in the third act, and outstanding performances most notably from Janelle Monáe and Kate Hudson, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is without a doubt not only one of the most entertaining films of the year so far, but one of the year’s best!
RATING: 5 out of 5