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‘Glass Onion’: A layered mystery

| Thursday, December 1, 2022

As the sun starts setting later and the wind gets colder, we all need a sunny, summer escape. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” centers on private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig; “Casino Royale,” “No Time to Die”), returning from the film “Knives Out.” Blanc finds himself on a private island getaway with a billionaire and his influential, famous friends. The only issue? Benoit was never meant to show up. When people start turning up dead, the investigation begins.

I’m not going to touch upon the plot much, because I feel that the best way to go into this movie is blind, without knowing much at all about what will happen. I will talk about “Knives Out,” though. “Glass Onion” is a sequel to the 2019 mystery-comedy “Knives Out,” with writer/director Rian Johnson returning. While the last film was a traditional theatrical film release, “Glass Onion” is a bit more complicated. After the success of “Knives Out,” the rights for two sequels were quickly bought by Netflix. Netflix had a company first with “Glass Onion,” as they teamed with movie theater chains Regal, AMC and Cinemark to distribute the movie for one week only, a month before the movie’s release on Netflix. I was fortunate enough to see this “sneak preview,” but I cannot wait for the wide release in December to watch the film again.

The film is driven by a smart, witty script bolstered by a great cast that deliver the comedy and tension in equal measures, with standouts being Craig’s Benoit Blanc, the detective investigating the mystery played by Janelle Monáe (“Hidden Figures”) as Cassandra Brand, a scorned former business partner of the getaway’s benefactor, and Kate Hudson’s (“Almost Famous”) Birdie Jay, a former supermodel and current businesswoman who drives some of the film’s best comedic moments. This is just scratching the surface of the cast, with Edward Norton (“Fight Club”), Kathryn Hahn (“Parks and Recreation”), Leslie Odom Jr. (“Hamilton”) and Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) rounding out the cast. With ensemble films, sometimes characters fall by the wayside. “Glass Onion” doesn’t have this problem, as every actor brings something to the table and makes the film stronger as a whole. 

The movie is hilarious, but that doesn’t mean it’s a parody of the murder-mystery genre. The movie brings a story filled with twists and shocking reveals that gives the film more complexity than one may initially think. “Knives Out” established traditions that carry over into “Glass Onion,” and I’m sure they will appear in the third film as well: a large, comedic ensemble cast; someone involved in the murder that he ropes into being his assistant; and lastly, a great soundtrack. The music in the first film drew from rock bands ranging from The Rolling Stones, Gordon Lightfoot and Roxy Music. “Glass Onion” has two prominent musicians utilized throughout the film: the music of David Bowie and the Beatles, with the film even deriving its title from the Beatles’ song of the same name. The movie features other musicians though, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Bee Gees both having songs in the film.

“Knives Out” is one of my favorite movies, and “Glass Onion” did not disappoint as a sequel. But that’s the thing. It has the same director, a returning star and character and a new murder. But is it really a sequel? The events of “Knives Out” are never acknowledged, with only a passing reference to one of the film’s elements. You don’t have to watch “Knives Out” to appreciate “Glass Onion.” If you’re a fan of the first film, I’m sure you’ll love “Glass Onion.” If you haven’t seen it? I’m still confident you’ll have a blast.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” comes out on Netflix Dec. 23, 2022.

Title: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

Director: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daniel Craig, Janelle Monáe, Edward Norton

Genre: Mystery, Comedy

If you like: “Knives Out,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “See How They Run”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Andy Ottone at [email protected].

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