Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

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Emerging from the seemingly never ending critical chaos after the release of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson recovered with style by turning around and casually reinvented the murder/mystery movie with the delightful Knives Out. A multi-layered, witty and loving riposte to the works of of Agatha Christie and other such crafters of twisty, turny plotting and machiavellian murders, the film not only made us fall in love with a vomiting Ana de Armas and Chris Evans’ line in tatty jumpers, but it gave us a brand new, fully fledged, cinematic super sleuth in the form of Daniel Craig’s drawling, verbose Benoit Blanc.
The effect was incendiary and Johnson’s skillfully manipulating of the genre, mixed with a plot that whipcracked more than Indiana Jones’ primary weapon, meant that another appearance from the Southern hokum spouting detective was all but mandatory and thanks to a momentous deal with Netflix, we now get The Glass Onion, but in crafting a further adventure for Blanc, has Johnson hit yet another eureka moment, or has the director simply outsmarted himself?

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Devastatingly self-important billionaire Miles Bron has sent out impressively complicated puzzle boxes to his group of friends, a hugely influential group eyeball rollingly dubbed The Disrupters who clearly haven’t seen Hellraiser, in order to invite them to a murder mystery weekend at his private island known as The Glass Onion. However, tagging along for reasons unknown (even to him) is world famous detective Benoit Blanc who seemingly has been invited by a mystery person, but seems happy to play along with a sense of slightly awkward social anxiety.
As the weekends begins, the members all assemble which contains determined politician Claire Debella; scientist Lionel Toussaint; toxic podcast Duke Cody and his girlfriend, Whiskey and idiotic model Birdie Jay and her overworked assistant Peg – but everyone is stunned at the arrival of Miles’ estranged ex-business partner Cassandra Brand who has since all fallen out with the group due to their self absorbed ways.
As the members of the Disruptors all gossip behind each other’s backs, Benoit, ecstatic to be out of the house due to COVID restrictions, can’t help but drink this all in, watching all the interactions and barely contained resentments unfold as he sips his Jared Leto brand Kombucha by the pool – however it all soon starts to pay off in worrying ways.
It becomes obvious that everyone has a sizable grudge with Miles because of the hold he has over each and every one of them and maybe inspiring the idea of an actual murder due the theme of the weekend.
Eventually, someone is indeed murdered for real, but as the night progresses and the events are covered – and then re-covered – we soon realize that nothing about this mystery can be taken for granted and nothing is truly is as it seems.

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It’s with a massive sense of joy to reveal that The Glass Onion is a truly worthy successor to Knives Out, that carefully treads the same path (obnoxious clutch of duplicitous rich folk caught up in an inpenetrable locked room mystery that flips the entire genre on its head) yet shakes things up enough to feel significantly different. Switching from the wood panelling and claustrophobia of Harlen Thrombey’s mansion to Miles Bron’s garish, Greek island, the world of Benoit Blanc (and his adoration of holiday neck scarves) is significantly opened up to show that the perfidious ogres that made up the original family weren’t the be all and end all of shifty rich-types Blanc will have to negotiate in order to find the truth.
The cast is – unsurprisingly – awesome, with everyone blatantly having a rollicking good time with Edward Norton’s unbearably smug billionaire and Kate Hudson’s oft cancelled Hollywood moron (she keeps posting racial slurs on Twitter as she has no idea what they are) as standouts, but as before, it’s Daniel Craig’s detective who simultaneously holds court while standing to the side as everything swirls around him. Commanding the room with his befuddled, Foghorn Leghorn honk, he’s still every bit the bewitching creation he was in his debut as we find out more about him, such as him trying to push through the pandemic by playing Among Us online against Angela Lansbury and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, or the revelation that he’s a bit shit at Cluedo.

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When I heard that The Glass Onion was going to be an entirely all-new Benoit Blanc adventure, I greeted the news with a mixture of excitement and trepidation because while the fact that a complete switch-up means that Blanc has truly joined the ranks of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, it meant that the genuinely sweet alliance between the garrulous sleuth and plucky immigrant nurse, Marta Cabera, would have to fall by the wayside. However, due to some typically extreme plot twists that show we only know a fraction of the true story, the spirit of that previous relationship remains very much alive albeit in a subtly different form. It’s this form that gives The Glass Onion its sizable heart and while talking about it would naturally spoil a sizable amount of suprises, it manages to duplicate the original’s utterly unpredictable nature to a dizzying degree.
So are there any cracks in The Glass Onion worth addressing? Not really, or at least not any that cause any noticeable damage at any rate. Certainly some of the sheer surprise that came from the first film as diminished slightly as we now know to expect the randomly unexpected and the sheer weight of celebrity cameos gets a little much, but the fact that this sequel is noticably funnier than its predecessor makes it a cracking, complex present to unwrap this christmas that’s complicated, yet vitally never impossible to follow.

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Yes, the final denouement may go on a little bit and you may actively wonder in which universe all these amoral shmucks would actually be friends, but it’s all part of the game and adds to the heightened reality of the piece. Gripping, funny (flashbacks reveal that Norton’s Bron use to dress not only like Steve Jobs, but worryingly like Tom Cruise in Magnolia too) and smarter than a stack of Stephen Frys, The Glass Onion will hopefully usher in yet more tangled plots and more garish characters for Benoit Blanc to unweave and outwit as this is one onion whose peeked back layers will demand for your eyes to be left wide open.
Thank god for Netflix’s Blanc check.

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