Review: 'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery' a Must-See

by Derek Deskins

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 23, 2022

The cast of "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery"
The cast of "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery"  (Source:Netflix)

I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed when I found out that Rian Johnson's next Benoit Blanc mystery (and the one after that) was being released by Netflix. Not that Johnson's mysteries cannot be enjoyed by you in your pajamas as you pass out on your couch, but they just play so well in a packed theater. Luckily, Netflix has granted "Glass Onion" a limited theatrical engagement, so you still have a shot at seeing it on the big screen.

Whether you choose to head to the theater or stay home, "Glass Onion" is one of the most enjoyable cinematic experiences that you can have this year. Watch it with a group, watch it by yourself, just watch it.

COVID has been tough on the greatest detective in the world, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). With a planet on lockdown, not many invites are being sent out to solve mysteries. But when tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) decides that his next extravagant trip with his closest friends was to be a "murder mystery party," it almost seems silly not to invite Blanc. Secluded on Bron's private Greek island, the group is prepared for a weekend of excess and relaxation, but when a fake murder turns into a real one, only Blanc can unravel the mystery.

Rian Johnson has been playing with the mystery medium for much of his career. But "Brick," "The Brothers Bloom," and even "Looper" felt like auditions for 2019's "Knives Out." Johnson had not only created a modern whodunit that was just as much about the characters and humor as the twists, but he had established a more delightful Hercule Poirot with Benoit Blanc. Nevertheless, sequels are hard, especially when the first installment was such an unabashed hit.

With "Glass Onion," Johnson doesn't set out to recreate "Knives Out." He takes his beloved detective and shoves him into a new mystery, allowing the film to thankfully stand on its own. In "Glass Onion," Johnson lets the outside world into our view of Benoit Blanc. He not only colors in the surroundings, he takes his time to draw something grander. Johnson excitedly dials up the proceedings with bigger characters and more expansive and expensive settings, all while never losing sight of the central mystery.

It's not so much that the cast of "Glass Onion" is of a higher caliber or celebrity value than "Knives Out," it's that Johnson makes sure to give them all more to do. Identifying an MVP of the exemplar cast is an impossibility (and I won't even speak to the number of wonderful cameos) because Johnson builds each character carefully. Just when I thought I had found my favorite performance, another one popped into my head. The characters are so well crafted that even Noah Segan's (a Johnson mainstay) Derol stole my heart in his limited screen time. The script is just so artfully constructed. Each new twist leaves you reeling and attempting to discover the next, while the delightful sense of humor and beautifully captured surroundings keep you constantly entertained.

There is just so much to love about "Glass Onion." Like its predecessor, it feels both informed by a long cinematic tradition and something entirely fresh. It is the type of movie that you can recommend to your cinephile friend as excitedly as you can to your grandmother. The script, while temporarily bogged down with paying lip service to our multi-year global pandemic, is as sharp and witty as "Knives Out," yet never feels beholden to what came before. The bevy of larger-than-life characters, all rendered wonderfully by the stacked cast, are only occasionally overshadowed by its alternatingly tacky and beautiful setting. But the star of these films has been and always will be Daniel Craig's dapper Columbo, Benoit Blanc.

"Glass Onion" is more than just a sequel to "Knives Out." It is a director confidently making the movies that he wants to in a manner that only he can. It is both something familiar and bitingly prescient. There are few directors that can capture that sensibility as casually as Rian Johnson. "Glass Onion" is one of the most entertaining movies of the year and I'm just looking forward to seeing it again.

"Glass Onion" opens in theaters November 23 and is available to stream on Netflix on December 23.