Knives Out was a film that, no pun intended, cut right through the middle of pop-culture and satisfied anyone who was a fan of the seemingly long-forgotten who-dunnit sub-genre of mystery films. While clearly paying a bit of homage to the works of Agatha Christie, Rian Johnson did a fantastic job at revitalizing the genre in a unique, exciting, and deeply funny way. One thing that I remember as the first film was released was the out-cry for more Benoit Blanc mysteries akin to how Hercule Poirot appears in most of Christie’s works. And now that we’re just about three-years removed from the release of the original Knives Out and have the release of the sequel upon us, Rian Johnson has proven that he can not only deliver a deeply satisfying and equally original and complex mystery as the original – but reaffirms the idea that he and Daniel Craig should continue to make adventures with Benoit Blanc for as long as humanly possible; Glass Onion is an absolute delight.
Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, and is the only original character to return for the sequel (technically, watch the credits to understand) – in fact, there are little to no references to the original Knives Out to be found here at all. The film opens in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, as Miles Bron (Edward Norton) groups together his friends for a weekend trip despite the on-going pandemic – he insists that a bit of normalcy is needed for him and his relatively-equally-rich friends. However, there is one invite that went out that wasn’t intended to – one to the doorstep of Blanc, despite him never having met Miles Bron. This spirals into an abundance of questions and, just like in the original, the second you get an answer is the moment you get two more questions that are twice as puzzling.
As someone who clearly loves the art and medium of film and screenwriting, Rian Johnson is one of those filmmakers that I feel genuinely envious of sometimes; simply because he’s so incredible at what he does. As I was watching this, and I paid attention to how seamlessly he peppers in amazing comedic-relief with genuinely thoughtful and engaging character work, on-top of never losing sight of its mystery and simply adding layers to it every chance he gets. The fact that he makes such a compelling mystery, a thoughtful commentary on a handful of modern-day topics that I won’t spoil, balances the incredible cast, and makes it even more entertaining than the original.. it’s one of the most impressive feats I’ve experienced in quite sometime. Glass Onion is a film that has so many spinning plates that it feels like it should crash and burn at any given moment, but it simply just finds a way to get better and better as it goes along.
Daniel Craig is absolutely delightful here in his return as Benoit Blanc. From the absolutely insane costumes that he wears to him doubling down on the hilarious southern accent that he established in the first movie (getting so many laughs off of just pronouncing certain words) – he is quickly becoming one of my favorite on-screen characters.. of all-time? The supporting cast this time around is equally fantastic as well. When you have people like Ed Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., etc. – it’s obviously going to be really impressive performance-wise. But what’s really impressive here is how much the cast works perfectly together, and how you immediately but them as a toxic friendgroup that should have evaporated from each other’s lives years ago. Janelle Monae in particular delivers the best supporting performance in the entire film, and delivers some of the biggest highlights of the film with such a bold, raw energy.
Is it better than the original? I can’t say for sure, as I think I need another viewing to really affirm whether or not it’s better than something that is now one of my favorite films of all-time. But with that being said, the fact that I’m even questioning it is impressive. Glass Onion is the type of sequel that goes bigger and more sporadic and complex than the original in nearly ever regard, and yet, it finds a sweet-spot of actually having the larger scale and production-value pay off in-terms of quality. Nothing about the weight of the ensemble and layers of the story feel like too much; but simply just enough. Clocking in at nearly 140-minutes, Glass Onion is funnier, more complex, and maybe even more satisfying than the original simply due to how much it sticks the landing and never feels like a chore to get through. It’s simply the most fun I’ve had watching a movie this year, and it has me genuinely eager to see another Benoit Blanc mystery – hopefully sooner than later.
Glass Onion releases on November 23rd in theaters and Netflix on December 23rd.