‘Glass Onion:’ a murder mystery that dazzles
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” Rian Johnson’s sequel to the popularly acclaimedmurder mystery comedy “Knives Out,” is a successful sequel in every sense. While the whole plot and most of the characters are completely new, “Glass Onion” takes many themes from the previous movie into a new and fresh direction.
As a result you do not need to have seen the first to watch the second. Daniel Craig plays the only recurring character, famous detective Benoit Blanc, this time taking a central role in the story. We follow Benoit Blanc through countless twists and turns as he pushes forth, unpacking all the lies and deceit to get to the center of the mystery.
The movie starts us out by firmly placing us in the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. Rather refreshing, considering it feels like most of Hollywood wants to just pretend it never happened.We even see Benoit playing Among Us, as well as dealing with the stifling, isolating, feelings we all went through in lockdown. From there it takes us out of this familiar isolation onto an isolated island of the wealthy and influential. Our central cast is invited to a murder mystery party set up by fictional silicon valley tech CEO Miles Bron, and the drama unfolds from there.
Just as in the first movie, Johnson casts actors that are either underrated or are unduly past their prime, and uses them in new and interesting ways. I never would have guessed Edward Norton, star of “Fight Club,” would work in place of Miles Bron, but he plays the role perfectly. The rest of the cast similarly fits their characters well, with a notable performance from Janelle Monáe. That being said, both Leslie Odom Jr. and Katheryn Hahn were underutilized, as actors and characters.
While the first movie follows the arc of a more traditional murder mystery, these conventions take a step back, letting Johnson’s startlingly current social commentary take center stage, while subverting the audience’s expectation.
One aspect of the social commentary worth highlighting is the relationship between the central cast. This movie shows us how academics, politicians, celebrities, corporations, wealthy individuals, news and social media, do not exist segmented off from one another as is often presented to us. Rather, the relationships between these groups are much more fluid and enmeshed. Each person follows their own personal and career incentives throughout these interactions, reinforcing one anothers status as long as it is mutually beneficial.
The archetypal Miles Bron himself could easily stand in for many silicon valley CEOs. This character sits at the center of “Glass Onion,” and the artistry of the unfolding mystery is such a thrilling ride on its own, you don’t care whether or not you’re able to figure it out by the end. Despite this, knowing the secrets makes a second viewing as, if not more, enjoyable than the first.