Whodunnit? “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” movie review

Daniel Craig’s Southern-fried detective returns for another delightfully fun romp

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Starring Daniel Craig, Janelle Monet & Edward Norton
Directed by Rian Johnson

See it: In theaters Nov. 23, on Netflix Dec. 23

Daniel Craig’s master detective, Benoit Blanc, returns to the screen in this frisky, twisty, turn-y followup to the 2019 whodunnit hit. It’s murder mystery time again, as a new group of characters assembles on a zillionaire’s posh private Greek island for a weekend retreat of shocks and surprises—and Benoit is there to sort out the dishy, devilishly clever details when things take a deadly detour.

A multi-layered, whiz-bang gizmo of a movie, this one stars Ed Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Outer BanksMadelyn Cline, and Game of ThronesJessica Henwick. And of course, everyone becomes a suspect—well, almost everyone, except the victim.

Or the victims.

Director Rian Johnson returns behind the camera, engineering another delightfully fun, deliciously detailed romp as Blanc pieces together a mosaic of puzzling clues to a real murder mystery inside a fake one. Or is it a fake one, inside a real one? Maybe it’s both. Don’t worry: You’ll eventually be led to the truth, motives will be revealed, character flaws become exposed, and Benoit (pronounced Ben-wah) puts it all together. There’s even a McGuffin, a red herring, to distract and misdirect, and a hefty dose of social satire, skewering mega-rich one percenters, clueless celebrities, loony megalomaniacs, macho gun clods and self-serving politicians.

It all owes a big nod, sure, to Agatha Christie, the queen of the murder mystery who developed the time-honored template for the format in her many novels. But this is world-building a modern world away from the Brit-centric manners of Christie’s classics. Glass Onion glitters with snappy celebrity cameos by Ethan Hawke, Hugh Grant and Serena Williams. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the star of one of director Johnson’s other films, Looper) isn’t seen, but he’s heard—his voice is the booming, recurring “dong” of a chiming clock. Jeremy Renner might not have his own brand of hot sauce, and Jared Leto’s “hard kombucha” might not be a real thing, but here, they’re part of the movie’s rich tapestry of pop-culture in-jokes. CNN’s Anderson Cooper also gets named-checked; supposedly, he throws some wild, way-out parties.  

Craig, recently retired from playing James Bond in the latest chapters of the super-spy franchise, settles into his new role—as the “world’s greatest detective”—with smooth, comedic ease, flexing hammy chops of loquacious, Southern-fried, cigar-smoking hokum that were never part of his arsenal as OO7. It’s easy to imagine a wider Knives Out world, more movies revolving around the dapper Blanc, who lives for the game, the hunt, the thrill of a mystery just begging to be solved. Soaking in a bathtub, holed up in his COVID bubble, playing online games with Angela Lansbury, Natasha Lyonne and Stephen Sondheim, just doesn’t cut it for Benoit. He longs to be out there, doing his thing, connecting the dots, cracking crimes. Hopefully he’ll get to do even more of it.

And what do a cocktail napkin, the world’s most iconic painting, rhinoceros-horn boner pills, Google alerts, sweatshop sweatpants, a Bach fugue, old-school fax machines and a glittering crystal of pure, clean energy have to do with it all? Look into the layers of this Glass Onion, as the Beatles song instructs, and oh, yeah—what was complex becomes clear, and you might find what was always there, hiding in plain sight.


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