The sequel of Knives Out is something you have seen countless times before!
In a world where TV still produces excellent mystery series, Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery comes out as a mixture of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Peter Falk’s Columbo. If you aren’t familiar with either of them, then this movie is a world-class murder mystery, but if you are, then you will remain in the ‘been there, seen that’ mode for its entire duration. Instead of raising the bar high with his second effort, writer/director Rian Johnson gives us a movie that might remind the viewers of better murder mysteries, but will not feature in that list.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery revolves around a party thrown by eccentric billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) who invites his group of friends known as “disruptors” to help him solve his make-belief murder at his private Greek island. When Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) ends up in the middle of a real murder, he decides to investigate and finds out that all the guests – former business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe), politician Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), head scientist for Miles’ company Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), and influencer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), – are somehow responsible. He uses his wits to solve the murder in time, but not before tragedy strikes twice at the ‘Glass Onion’.
What makes Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is its setting, its relatable characters, and above all, its ability to keep the viewers glued to the screen for its entire duration. It is an Agatha Christie-styled mystery where Columbo is the lead detective instead of Hercule Poirot, and with no one suspecting him, he manages to outsmart all with his antics. The cinematography, the characterization, the cameo appearances, and the intelligent use of an ensemble cast are exactly how a modern-day mystery thriller should be and those who haven’t realized that yet should make note of this ingredient which seems to be missing from their films.
As for the performances, Dave Bautista and Edward Norton are the standouts here because they manage to connect with the viewers at once. While Dave manages to shed his comic persona from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Edward Norton is always a treat to watch no matter which universe he is in. It was good to see Kate Hudson doing something major whereas Kathryn Hahn’s magic was missing since she was playing a character that had nothing much to do. The performance of Janelle Monáe could only be praised once you had seen the film, whereas Leslie Odom Jr. had nothing to do except what many African American actors have done before him. There is another character in the film that comes and goes, but while many might not like his distracting presence, it might have to do more in the next Knives Out mystery.
It seems Rian Johnson saw more mystery movies after making the last Knives Out flick and somehow, somewhere he ended up watching a few Bollywood flicks. Why? Because that influence is clearly visible here and if you end up reaching the same conclusion, then you aren’t the only one. Secondly, where was the art director when Benoit Blanc’s wardrobe was being selected, either he or she wasn’t there, or if they were then they were very bad at their work. The director made the mistake of not giving the detective the kind of freedom he had in his last case because here he was overshadowed by his co-stars, something which never happened when Poirot, Columbo, or even Jessica Fletcher was in attendance.
Also, the film seemed more like an episode of a Benoit Blanc TV series instead of a film franchise, and the writer/director is to be blamed for that. Unlike the last time when he had created a perfect flick for all ages, this one had less mystery and more caricatures. After all, there are hardly a handful of uber-rich super-geniuses who are both eccentric scientists and bullies as well. (Yes, that one!). Secondly, who would invite their ex-partner to a ‘friends’ only’ gathering especially after wronging that person out in a business deal! Seems far-fetched, but hey, it’s a Knives Out mystery that features the Mona Lisa on loan from Louvre, Serena Williams as Miles’ personal trainer, and the late Angela Lansbury in what turned out to be her final role.
The Verdict 2.5/5
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a feeble attempt at a murder mystery that seems to have been made more as an obligation than from passion, because that ingredient was there in the previous film, but not here. While Benoit Blanc’s introduction was first-rate, the second coming wasn’t that impressive, and those who have been rating it as a world-class experience should broaden their own viewing experience to realize that what they believe is ingenuity is in the same universe known as ‘done and dusted’.
Yes, the director makes the audience stay on the edge of their seat for the 139-minute duration, but first, that’s too lengthy even for a Benoit Blanc mystery and secondly, the newer audience doesn’t have the patience to stay involved for more than 2 hours. Instead of trying to go big with the plot, he went huge with the set and characters, and with that, you can impress the audience with limited viewing experience but not those who have been solving cases alongside detectives for as long as they can remember.