Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – London Film Festival 2022 – Film Review
Benoit Blanc is back with a bang in Glass Onion and now that he is recognised as an acclaimed crime solving investigator this second outing of Knives Out is brasher, more elaborate and has more of that Blanc swagger. As with all murder-mystery thrillers, less is more as Glass Onion is full of intrigue and spectacle to test those skills of deduction. Glass Onion is certainly on a par with its predecessor and will please fans of the original whilst attracting a new audience, with fresh storytelling, as the action transports itself from the wintry claustrophobic settings of a home to a Greek holiday getaway. Glass Onion is that dazzling, riveting ensemble piece that we have been waiting for and continues to pay homage and revitalise the whodunit genre. Recent films such as See How They Run have also re-ignited our fascination with whodunits and they continue to appeal.
Whilst Glass Onion may be a glitzier affair, check out the strikingly fashionable outfits, its themes remain true to the original. An Agatha Christie mystery premise thus unfolds with new characters to discover whilst the dynamics of the murder-mystery puzzle are underway. Rian Johnson teases by transporting the activity to a paradise island getaway, similar to a luxurious location in a James Bond film, and includes a disparate set of people with a penchant for puzzle solving and different motivations. The sun-soaked environment also reflects the film’s vibrant colour palette and joyful mood that is not just due to the flamboyant personalities within the group. Glass Onion simply radiates with joyful energy.
Johnson certainly fulfils audiences’ expectations of a Benoit Blanc episode by delivering laugh out loud antics and clever editing within a mise en abîme. There are bigger stars on this occasion, with Kate Hudson, Edward Norton and Janelle Monáe amongst the ensemble, but Glass Onion oozes fun and titillates from every layer unpeeled. The cast are having fun, and the fantastic chemistry amongst them is testament to that, with exaggerated caricatures for maximum laughs. We are merely spectators along for the ride in Glass Onion. The film, with a seemingly bigger budget, may therefore attract criticism of being a crowd pleaser and the Covid related jokes may accelerate an outmoded feel for the film. That being said, there is still something for everyone to enjoy in Glass Onion despite its lack of incisive satire and some cringe inducing moments.
Glass Onion provides a visual, in your face, analysis of the modern world where first world problems still migrate to a remote getaway and that sense of escapism is therefore lost. Parallels can be seen to the TV show Death in Paradise where murder-mysteries are regularly evident on the sunny island of Guadeloupe. But in this sequel, Johnson also evokes the spirit of the late Peter Falk’s Colombo who, with his ruffled suit and cigar smoking, was always underestimated and Blanc’s mannerisms resemble Colombo’s. As with the original, we have learnt not to be mistaken by Blanc’s southern drawl and whilst Glass Onion has developed a sense of self-awareness, within its dialogue, there is still sufficient intrigue, twists and turns for the film to remain fresh. Johnson therefore continues to subvert the whodunit genre in this exciting sequel.
Johnson, is truly a master of suspense but cannot resist that social commentary regarding capitalism. It is therefore unsurprising that the ensemble comprises affluent and unlikeable individuals. Blanc is unfazed by this group and Johnson appears to be inviting us all to share a similar outlook. Daniel Craig is truly in his element reprising his role as Blanc, relishing being the interloper. Notably, Blanc has undergone subtle changes with more sophisticated sartorial choices and a confident stance. Blanc toys with the ensemble and Johnson in turn toys with us as the twists and turns of the mystery unfold.
Glass Onion also celebrates fashion given Benoit’s increased appreciation for his appearance and some fashion friendly characters. Johnson’s directorial flair emphasises these fashionable outfits adorned by Kate Hudson’s Birdie and the striking fitted outfits of Monáe’s Cassandra. The rivalry therefore extends beyond the puzzle solving competitiveness amongst the group as Johnson playfully examines rivalry in the fashion stakes. The fashionable dresses worn are highlighted with close ups and slow motion shots as dresses swirl and hypnotise. Glass Onion casts a spell and weaves its magic during its runtime and will convincingly leave audiences spellbound. It must also be said that the cast’s performance as an ensemble is superb, with perfect comic timing. As with any ensemble piece it is difficult to single out individual performances but Monáe’s performance is outstanding in many ways as she captivates with her onscreen presence.
Glass Onion is that sexy sequel creating a lavish environment, with secrets revealed, for audiences to savour with an embedded humour and several in jokes. Whilst Glass Onion may not be subtle in tone, it proves that Johnson’s passion and flair for whodunit films is unparalleled, as he continues to surprise and entice. Benoit Blanc is here to stay and his next adventure is eagerly anticipated.