Glass Onion has more layers to it than its predecessor, Knives Out
3.5 out of 5
Almost 50 years ago, in 1973, director Herbert Ross brought us a film called "The Last of Sheila" written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins and starring James Coburn, Raquel Welch and Dyan Cannon about a game of murder among wealthy vacationers which turns into the real thing. Rian Johnson who has written and directed this new "Knives Out" mystery has confessed that Sondheim and Perkin's script was a big influence for his new murder mystery, Glass Onion.
So what else can we say about Glass Onion without spoiling the plot? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed Knives Out as it reinvigorated the whodunnit as a film form, a welcome trend. Oh, you want more? Ok, in this new film, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig is back with his Foghorn Leghorn, over the top performance) and he travels to Greece to peel back the layers of a mystery involving a new cast of colourful suspects.
This anticipated sequel is almost as much fun and as compelling as Johnson’s first film with an equally entertaining cast, pulling audiences into a captivating mystery on a remote Greek island that is beautifully shot and paced with Johnson’s witty dialogue and genuine twists.
Craig once again shines as Blanc throughout the story, further showcasing Blanc’s deductive reasoning, intelligence, charm and penchant for colourful metaphors and life lessons. He even gets a bit more to do than the previous film as Blanc plays a much more central role to the story with Craig exploring more sides to Blanc, conveying a deeper emotional range. He has great chemistry with everyone in the cast and one of the appeals of Glass Onion is seeing how Blanc’s own eccentric personality can clash with the other characters.
The whole ensemble delivers great performances, from Edward Norton’s strange billionaire, Dave Bautista’s overbearing YouTuber to Kate Hudson’s vapid pop star and fashionista. Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr. play their characters straight, clearly the more put together members of this group, while Janelle Monáe does well giving off a cold and bitter attitude through both her performance and mere presence onscreen. Jessica Henwick also plays things straight as Hudson’s exasperated assistant while Madelyn Cline seems to be more a trophy girlfriend at first, but gets to explore more with her character as the film goes on.
Clocking in at nearly 2 1/2 hours, there’s never a dull moment as the characters and their relationships are thoughtfully built up with nice slices of tension until everything boils over. Johnson’s narrative is slightly more traditional than Knives Out was, yet he still finds plenty of room to bend the mystery genre to deliver a fresh story that also tests Blanc in new ways. His script is also full of fast and witty comedy with many of the jokes hitting their mark.
The visuals for Glass Onion are gorgeous as Johnson, cinematographer Steve Yedlin and their team took full advantage of the Greek island’s beautiful location as well as the elaborate sets to create images that pop off the screen with its vibrant colours. It’s a stark departure from Knives Out‘s moody and near gothic atmosphere, yet retains not only Jonhson’s style but Blanc’s too as he’s thrust into the world of billionaires and power players.
Rian Johnson succeeds in making Glass Onion a worthy follow up to Knives Out and delivers an entertaining, character driven, funny and captivating mystery. Craig’s return as Benoit Blanc is excellent and he leads a great ensemble that is smartly written, designed and shot.