Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson
Synopsis: Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends, as well as Detective Benoit Blanc , for a “murder mystery party” getaway on Glass Onion, his private Greek island. However, when someone turns up dead for real, Blanc must crack the case and discover who the killer is.
One of the best experiences I have had at the movie theatres in a long time is with Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, a whodunnit that had audiences guessing and laughing for the entire runtime. When it was announced that Netflix had acquired the rights to distribute the next tale of detective Benoit Blanc, my first worry was that it would not be easily seen by the general public on the big screen. Experiencing the first film in a movie theatre elevated the material and I knew that it would not be the same watching Glass Onion at home, not having an audience laugh alongside the jokes and being a part of discovering the mystery together. That is why I made sure to see the film in a festival run at the first chance I had, and why I am glad that Netflix is having a week-long wide release in movie theatres across the world for this latest release.
Just as with the original, Glass Onion is a true ensemble piece. Of course, it is great to see Daniel Craig return as Benoit Blanc, a character that I want to see him return to over and over again. However, the new cast of characters in this film are what elevate this story compared to Knives Out. It is easy to see why Janelle Monaé has been the one getting the most praise online, as they are given the most material to work with. The performance they give gets better throughout the film as more is revealed about the story, with Monaé potentially giving my favorite supporting performance of any film so far this year. Everyone in the cast deserves recognition for their work here, but one other stand out performance I would like to highlight is Dave Bautista, who continues to prove that he can be versatile and offer range unlike many others who make the move from wrestling to acting.
A big part of a good whodunnit is the murder mystery, and I like the idea that the beginning of this story sets up the idea of a fake murder mystery that the group of friends have to solve. While it is obvious from the start that something is going to go wrong and that someone would end up murdered, it gives the screenplay some breathing room to introduce the audience to the new batch of characters and learn about their connections, making us observant long before anything has even taken place. Rian Johnson is able to use the comedic relief of the fake murder mystery to shock the audience later on down the line, even when the audience is expecting something to happen, balancing humor with a darker plot line in the second half of the film.
Glass Onion is a film that was made during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that element is very much a part of the script. While it took me by surprise that the subject matter was being approached in what felt like a humorous manner, it does make sense for a story such as this one. To have a character such as Kate Hudson’s Birdie Jay ignore all of the warnings and instead go to parties reflects actions that we saw from influencers and celebrities during the pandemic. Additionally, having the pandemic as an element of the film gives the story a great excuse to have these characters meet up and go to a private island, reducing the number of people on screen needed for a majority of the film and making it easier to shoot at this time.
Glass Onion is another fantastic whodunnit from Rian Johnson, but is it better than Knives Out? Well, that comes down to personal preference and what you seek from these films. In terms of the murder mystery itself, Glass Onion feels more predictable and doesn’t land as hard with the big reveals. However, the back story is more compelling and the humor is elevated to another level, unafraid to commit to an almost caricature-level of writing and performance for many of the characters in this film. If you want to see Glass Onion, which you definitely should, make sure to catch it in the movie theatre if you are able to. These films demand to be seen with the biggest crowd possible.