‘Knives Out’ is Back, Brighter, and Just as Clever With ‘Glass Onion’


The cast of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (Courtesy YouTube)

By Megan Fisher, Arts Writer


My favorite board game is “Clue.” Many hours of my childhood were spent huddled around the kitchen table with my family trying to find out who killed Mr. Boddy and laughing at fake accusations, fighting over whether someone was cheating or not, scheming up ways to stop one of my siblings from winning and all around enjoying good company. Delightfully, with “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” director Rian Johnson is able to translate the feeling of playing “Clue” with your family to the big screen. It’s a movie where the cast and crew seemed to have as much fun making it as the audience will have watching.

Bigger and Brighter than the Original

A sequel to 2019’s surprise smash “Knives Out,” “Glass Onion” once again gathers an ensemble cast of charming movie stars to try and solve a twist-filled mystery with plenty of laughs and social commentary. Yet, Johnson is not happy to rest on the laurels of his predecessor. It’s clear right from the word “go” that he has set some parameters for himself. The storytelling is more ambitious, more lavish and twisty, and everything is bigger and brighter. The extended running time is rather bloated and some plot points are hammered home three or four times, but the movie proceeds with such wit and energy that much is forgiven. You’re having too much fun to want to be anywhere else.

This outing’s mystery concerns a tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), rather similar to a certain tech billionaire that’s been in the news lately. In spring of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he invites a group of friends, an assortment of influencers called The Disrupters, to his private Greek island. Bron will be metaphorically murdered and then the group will have to figure out who did the deed.

Introduced over a split-screen phone call as they try to figure out what sort of game Bron is playing, The Disrupters include Birdie (Kate Hudson), a ditzy former model who fancies herself a social media truth-teller, much to the dismay of her assistant, Peg (Jessica Henwick). They are joined by Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr. ), a scientist who works for Bron; Claire (Kathryn Hahn) the governor of Connecticut who fancies herself a soccer mom; Duke (Dave Bautista), a Men’s Rights Activist who runs a YouTube channel with his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), and Andi (Janelle Monáe), Bron’s former business partner. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), the world-famous detective, is also along for the ride though no one can figure out how he got an invitation.

Bron’s island retreat is called “Glass Onion,” after the Beatles song. It’s outfitted with every one of Bron’s tasteless, nouveau-riche whims — a robot dog carries the luggage, the bar is outfitted with Jared Leto‘s Hard Kombucha and Jeremy Renner‘s hot sauce and the actual Mona Lisa hangs on the wall, on loan from the Louvre. All of these frills are shown off for comic effect as Bron’s murder mystery party goes awry. Because, of course, it does.

Ensemble Works Well Together

While some parts are underwritten — in particular, Hahn and Odom Jr.’s parts feel like chess pieces and not fully fleshed out human beings — every actor gets a moment to dig in. They work as an ensemble, volleying the crisp and witty dialogue back and forth to each other with great alacrity. Craig, free from the shackles of the James Bond franchise, is having the time of his life as the southern-fried gentleman detective, savoring every single syllable with a Foghorn Leghorn accent.

Hudson plays the calculatingly airheaded Birdie with a razor-sharp comic timing straight out of screwball comedy. Monáe’s sphinx-like performance is a technical high-wire act, starting out as part of the mystery to solve and ending up as the movie’s emotional cornerstone. Norton does fine work as well, with a particular outfit that he sports during a flashback getting a loud laugh from my movie theater audience.


If I had to sum up “Glass Onion” in one word, it would be “clever.” Johnson shows a preternatural talent for misdirection, hiding clues in plain sight and burrowing them within throwaway lines. While the mystery is not as sophisticatedly constructed as the one in “Knives Out,” “Glass Onion” doesn’t cheat on any of the twists or reveals. It’s a mystery that’s not trying to outsmart the audience, but zip them along on a scenic afternoon ride, laughing and playing games all the while.

Johnson will not be able to churn these babies out fast enough.


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