Agatha Christie’s influence on the cinematic whodunnit genre continues to this day. This year has seen films like Death on the Nile, a direct adaptation of her work, and See How They Run, a mystery where she was one of the characters in the film. However, it’s time for Netflix and writer/director Rian Johnson to give us Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, a new movie serving as a sequel to the 2019 film Knives Out. This film brings back Daniel Craig as the eccentric Southern detective Benoit Blanc with a new murder, a new mystery, and a brand new ragtag group of people.
Glass Onion is a total blast. This is a whodunnit for the ages that manages to serve as a worthy sequel to one of the best films of 2019, and it is a testament to Johnson’s skill as a filmmaker. He crafts a sequel that is very different from the first film while retaining the personality and style that makes this movie work. The first ten minutes are ruthlessly efficient storytelling as Johnson lines up a brand new set of characters, all of whom are given a mysterious box of puzzles to solve.
We have a politician running for Senate, an insensitive supermodel-turned-fashion designer, a Twitch streamer/men’s rights activist, and so many more. All of these characters, including Blanc, have been invited to an exclusive weekend getaway murder mystery party hosted by billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). This film, set on a sunny remote island, offers a delightfully unique setting that allows the movie to set itself apart from the cozy Thanksgiving sweater-bound nature of the first one. But the new climate is not the only thing distinguishing this film from the original.
Although the first movie gives us the murder in its opening scene, the murder in this film does not occur until halfway through. This may be the movie’s weakest point because while the first hour is entertaining, you’re almost waiting for the movie to start as you get introduced one by one to these characters and the backstory. However, all of this is necessary because Johnson does a fantastic job of hiding critical details in plain sight and then pulling the rug out from under the audience, allowing for the perfect setups and payoffs in the film’s second half. You never know which detail will come back later, and it creates a miraculous repeat viewing experience.
Once the film goes full Knives Out, it zeroes in and becomes a hilarious blast. The jokes are timely and relevant, with Norton’s character serving as the Elon Musk of the film. Everything is anchored by the performances, especially from Craig as Blanc. Benoit Blanc may be the most lovable, brilliant movie character of the 21st century, and Craig plays him to perfection. Unlike the first film, he feels more out of his element in this environment, and the movie’s structure does not allow him to suspect the characters how you would expect from a whodunnit.
The result is a film that never stops entertaining you. It’s hilariously sharp, clever to the end, and will have you pulling back the layers of this onion as you watch it. While not every cast member gets the chance to shine, the ones that do really do, particularly Norton in his excellent comedic performance and Janelle Monáe in a role that she pulls off perfectly. While the actual mystery may not be as strong as the original, the humor more than makes up for it. Ultimately, it does everything a sequel should do and will have you begging for more Benoit Blanc murder mysteries for years to come.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.