In the extremely fascinating Glass Onion: A Knives Out Enigma, Rian Johnson, and Daniel Craig expand the mystery behind Benoit Blanc’s investigations of the wealthy elite.
Imagine, ladies and gentlemen, a billionaire who has the audacity to waste a fortune in order to stroke his own ego. Imagine if that same billionaire’s desire to boost his ego required him to surround himself with individuals who despise him and wish him ill. Even the sycophants, with their gleaming smiles, can hardly conceal their spiteful idolatry and envy.
No, I’m not describing the news coverage of Elon Musk’s Twitter quagmire. Rather, I’m describing the setup for Glass Onion, which, as its full title reminds us, is also “A Knives Out Mystery.”
The film’s arrival on Netflix more than a year after receiving the green light and having already toured film festivals is a bit of a coincidence.
This is not to imply that writer-director Rian Johnson could have predicted Musk’s specific folly in destroying a popular social media app within a few months. But like his and Daniel Craig’s delightful sleuth creation, Benoit Blanc, Johnson is a keen observer of hubris, vanity, and all the other ugly human traits that can result in a toxic personality and a beautiful murder mystery.
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The director follows in the footsteps of other masters of the whodunit subgenre, but what makes Knives Out and Glass Onion such enjoyable thrillers is that they aim to do more than confuse and perplex with a murder mystery and a side of red herrings.
These elements are also present in the most recent release, albeit on an almost epic scale. However, both films are also critiques of class and wealth in this country, both in terms of how they are valued and ultimately venerated.
Privilege generates mystique, and mystique is merely another term for constructing layers of deception that obscure the truth—until, to paraphrase John Lennon, you’re looking through a glass onion.
Glass Onion differs from its predecessor in that even Craig’s “Southern” detective doesn’t know what he’s searching for this time around. When he is invited to a private Greek island owned by the eccentric tech billionaire Miles Bronson, he is perhaps more uneasy in Glass Onion than in Knives Out, and also more acutely aware that a game is afoot (Edward Norton).
As it turns out, Silicon Valley poster boy Miles hosts bizarre parties for his oldest friends every year, and during the film’s setting at the height of the pandemic, Miles has decided to invite those same friends to his private Greek estate to play a murder mystery game. This also explains the decision to invite Benoit Blanc, a distinguished gentleman of leisure and deduction.
However, it does not take the world’s greatest detective to deduce that something is amiss when people board the yacht bound for Miles’ island. Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe), Miles’ former business partner and current social outcast, is also a surprise guest.
Blanc is the only non-member of this group, but he’s not the only outsider. The more Benoit learns about all parties’ histories with one another and their strained “friendships” with Miles, the more he suspects that one of them may be out to kill Miles. The sun is now setting.
Glass Onion is a more elaborate composition than Knives Out. In essence, the board is still a locked room mystery with seven suspects, but there is a scope that maximizes the formula.
Glass Onion is content to take its time, taking place on a sprawling villa in the sun-drenched Aegean and spanning a lengthy 140 minutes. Audiences and Benoit Blanc get to see the suspects in real-time, as opposed to depending on a flood of contradictory flashbacks and recollections.
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In addition, we have a front-row seat to observe Miles Bron’s delusional conceit, as he invites a collection of supplicants who each have a reason to wish him dead to his home, and is then surprised when Blanc suggests that it’s not a good idea for them to also fantasize about his murder. Whoops.
As the suspects, all the actors swing big, creating characters who are arguably more bizarre and cartoonish than the Thrombeys in Knives Out. However, they are also partly excused for their gaucheness, as it is new money, etc. Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista, who appears as the most ludicrous characters, Birdie Jay and Duke Cody, respectively, will certainly be eagerly anticipated by audiences.
One is a disgraced fashion guru who has become a social media fame owing to posting whatever comes to mind, while the other is a Twitch influencer who knows exactly what he’s doing when selling “boner pills” to video gamers alongside his much younger girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline).
The cast also includes Kathryn Hahn as a newly elected governor, Leslie Odom Jr. as Miles’ resentful second-in-command, and Monáe as the mysterious Andi. Similar to how Knives Out made Ana de Armas a household name, we anticipate that Glass Onion will introduce Monáe’s ability to a far larger audience.
Her determination to return and confront those who deceived her is the true mystery of the film, at least until the Grim Reaper visits the eccentric family. Blanc is most intrigued by her righteous indignation toward the group.
Given the film’s longer setup, Glass Onion is able to develop its suspects and players more thoroughly than Knives Out. However, Johnson’s slightly indulgent style makes his first mystery film all the more intriguing.
Glass Onion teases in a more restless manner, waiting just as long for a body to hit the floor, whereas Knives Out taunts by making you believe the killer is revealed in the first act.
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Nonetheless, each element contributes to Johnson’s larger satire. Craig is once again so ebullient that the actor’s enthusiasm is contagious. And this time, the character is a mystery in and of himself, not just because his accent defies the actual cadence of the Deep South. Here is a detective who delights in uncovering the murders and plots of the elite, but visibly abhors their company.
In Glass Onion, his enthusiasm to party with a billionaire is therefore immediately shocking… and appealing. Only when Glass Onion’s highly tangled and unpredictable tangles have been untangled does it become apparent that Benoit may not be seeking the truth of evil crimes at all; rather, he is a youngster anxious to see how much chaos he can create.
The one created by Blanc and Johnson in Glass Onion is a splendid mess. It also suggests that the character and artist’s larger work is not yet complete. If this is true, I cannot wait until they finish the triptych.
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Glass Onion Trailer
Is It Worthwhile to Watch the Glass Onion?
Glass Onion captures the majority of the first film’s enchantment with its stellar cast and intricate plot, but it deviates slightly from the blueprint to make the franchise’s future more intriguing. It is without a doubt the most fun and rewatchable Netflix Original of the year.
Does Glass Onion Spoil Knives Out?
The remainder of the Knives Out cast does not appear to be a part of Glass Onion. People report that writer-director Rian Johnson views Glass Onion as more of a standalone film than a sequel. However, it is still advisable to review the original film in case anything from it is referenced in the sequel.