Misdirections and illusions rule director Rian Johnson’s return to Benoit Blanc mysteries in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the sequel to 2019’s Knives Out. Set over a tumultuous weekend on a private island in Greece, famous detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery party with increasingly real stakes, held by tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) and his group of friends – or self-proclaimed “Disruptors.”
Where Knives Out was a densely layered and surprising “whodunit” mystery, Glass Onion drags the viewer through the layers in a high-tension race of catch-the-killer. In fact, the mystery collapses in a single scene, where the killer may be revealed early for hawk-eyed viewers.
Regardless of the loose threads, the mystery is pure fun, playing out like a pantomime. Smoke and mirrors reign, as each character brings their own mask to the island – despite the COVID masks being abandoned at the dock.
Glass Onion brings to life a group of friends not so dissimilar from the caricatures in a CLUE game. Kate Hudson as model and fashion designer Birdie Jay is the bright and flashy counterpart to Kathryn Hahn’s beaten down politician Claire Debella. Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) Is the level-headed scientist, whereas Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) roars to life on-screen as the men’s rights, gun-toting streamer.
But through the chaos, Janelle Monáe shines as Andi Brand, ex-partner to Miles Bron. Her disdain for her old friends is cutting, bolstered by the hidden stakes of the weekend. The slow, haunting piano score that accompanies Monáe each time on screen is reminiscent of Jonny Greenwood’s dark piano melodies in Phantom Thread. This tone shift underscores her betrayal by the group and leaves an uneasy feeling to her appearance on the island.
Daniel Craig’s second round as debonaire detective Benoit Blanc is as charming as the first. Moving on from the darkness and grit of James Bond, Craig relishes in the often silly, and always outrageous settings he finds himself in. And even more so than Knives Out, this is truly a Benoit Blanc movie. Rather than simply skulking around looking for clues, he deposits himself right in the centre of the action to unsettle the schemes of the Disruptors.
Furthermore, Glass Onion looks visually stunning, as Johnson teams up again with cinematographer Steve Yedlin (past partnerships including Knives Out and Star Wars: The Last Jedi) to bring this unique setting to life. Once again, Yedlin brings a gorgeous colour palette to the film. His work creates a distinct environment and allows the actors to dance across the frame in seemingly effortless manner, creating layers and hierarchies within the frame itself. He allows the characters to unabashedly spy on each other, with heads consistently popping up behind bushes and statues and peering through glass.
Johnson takes full advantage of this gorgeous new Mediterranean setting, luxuriating in the sweeping grounds of the villa and poking a finger at its ridiculous extravagance. Touches of unexplained sci-fi elevate the ludicrous situation and eccentric behaviours of Bron; the viewer is left as baffled as Blanc at the sight of a canine-shaped luggage-carrying robot.
Full of twists and turmoil, Glass Onion is easily unraveled but riotous fun to watch. Johnson proves yet again to be a sharp writer, and with his quick wit he leads the viewer through a mystery filled with trick boxes, facades and magic tricks. It’s well worth a watch and is a gripping return to the adventures of Benoit Blanc. ​​​​​​​

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