By Jack McLaughlin
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is Rian Johnson’s followup to his widely successful predecessor, “Knives Out.” The latest installment reunites viewers with world-class detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to once again uncover a murder mystery with a bizarre lineup of new characters.
The cozy autumn-in-Massachusetts setting established in the first film has been swapped for a beautiful Greek island in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, where eccentric billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) invites his longtime friends to his private estate for a long weekend with the promises of a brief moment of normalcy.
The drastic change in setting helps ease viewers into the new characters, which can be difficult considering how amazing the cast of the first film was.
The script was once again written by Johnson, who captures the same blend of suspense and humor that made his previous film so iconic. His ability to write strong humor is showcased in the first 10 minutes in an intricate scene that quickly introduces each of the characters as they receive their invitations from Miles.
Without spoiling any story details, the script and cinematography keep the viewer second guessing every little detail presented on screen.
There are many moments where you will be paying close attention to what characters are doing in the background or what they say in quick dialogue scenes that will constantly keep your attention when trying to figure out the mystery.
The fast pace of the story makes these moments hard to catch, and once you think you figured everything out it continues to surprise you at every turn.
The iconic cast established in the first film is completely thrown away in favor of an equally compelling ensemble. While we still have Daniel Craig absolutely crushing in his role as Detective Blanc, the film takes the necessary step to make sure the viewer will enjoy the new characters.
You’ll find it nearly impossible to pick a favorite character. Each has so many great moments and you will appreciate each one for completely different reasons.
With that being said, the best new additions to the cast were Dave Bautista and Janelle Monáe.
Bautista plays Duke Cody, an online influencer. The character is written and performed as a mockery of problematic influencers plaguing social media. The commentary on this aspect of social media being portrayed with the glowing charisma and humor that Bautista is known for will make viewers gravitate their attention to him as his moments are terrific.
His introduction tells the viewer everything you have to know about the character without revealing too much. The dynamic between him and actress Jackie Hoffman is a comedic highlight while also being a perfect scene that establishes his personality.
Monáe plays a much different character than Bautista’s. Her presence on screen never fails to keep viewers curious, and audiences will find that her character has an incredibly satisfying payoff that will make them resonate with her that much more.
Another strong highlight is Kate Hudson, who plays a fashion model that can’t seem to grasp what’s acceptable to post on social media.
Her unawareness of what’s socially acceptable to say or post online makes for some hilarious scenes that are clearly a commentary on how certain influential people use these platforms.
Hudson and Bautista’s characters are similar in that they are both online influencers who are viewed as controversial, though the film does wonders with making their situations feel completely different by giving them more than just these surface level traits.
If a constant rotation of actors becomes the norm for future installments, it will be welcomed with open arms after how well it works here.
The music is not a real standout here unfortunately. There are a few interesting tracks especially toward the end, but it is mostly forgettable.
Fortunately, something like a lacking score can be forgiven considering how well everything else was executed.
If it sounds like I’m being vague, it’s on purpose as this film is best experienced knowing as little as possible before watching. It’s also because this film will not be widely available until Dec. 23 when it releases on Netflix.
This is a rare sequel that can be watched on it’s own with no prior knowledge of the first installment and despite being another murder mystery, it manages to improve everything “Knives Out” excelled at and goes even further to be one of the best watches this year.
A: Take the hint, go see this!