The original Knives Out took everything we know about whodunit stories and subverted our expectations. Glass Onion plays with our knowledge of the previous film, catching us off guard in new, thrilling ways. While still A Knives Out Mystery, Glass Onion works as a standalone movie that plays by different rules. The common thread is Detective Benoit Blanc, who may very well exceed James Bond as Daniel Craig’s career-defining role. Seeing Blanc giddy about a mystery gets us equally jazzed up. Craig leads another all-star ensemble in a case that entails money, manipulation, and murder.
Given the Agatha Christie inspiration, it’s appropriate that this sequel would call to mind vacation murder mysteries like Death on the Nile. Rian Johnson also borrows from The Last of Sheila with that film’s co-screenwriter, the late Stephen Sondheim, making a cameo. Blanc is invited for a weekend getaway at a private island called the Glass Onion. The guest lists include Kathryn Hahn as a tightly-wound politician, Kate Hudson as a ditsy model, Jessica Henwick as her longsuffering assistant, Leslie Odom Jr. as a scientist, Dave Bautista as a gun-toting man-child, and Madelyn Cline as his bombshell girlfriend. Where they all know each other, Blanc is the only outsider. That is except for Janelle Monáe’s Andi, who had a falling out with the group for unknown reasons.
Their host is Edward Norton’s eccentric billionaire, Miles Bron. Miles has invited his friends to play a murder mystery game with him as the victim. As you might’ve guessed, things don’t go according to plan, but not in the way you may expect. Johnson once again carefully maps out his screenplay with clever twists and turns that never feel forced. To delve too deep into the plot would mean divulging spoilers. Let’s just say that there are at least two revelations that you won’t see coming, but both add up in satisfying ways. There’s another twist that’s not hard to figure out, but even then, Glass Onion will have you guessing the why and how. Just as we watch the gears turning in Blanc’s head, the film ignites our inner crime solver. Whether Glass Onion leaves you feeling like a master detective or an amateur sleuth, the ride is always fun.
While the first Knives Out had a great ensemble, it was mainly a showcase for Craig, Ana de Armas, and Chris Evans. Everyone else could occasionally feel underutilized. This isn’t the case with Glass Onion, which gives each supporting character material to sink their teeth into. Monáe is arguably the standout as her character develops an unexpected rapport with Blanc. Much like in The Menu, the supporting players here may be mostly self-absorbed, but they’re not without sympathy. Of course, Norton is admittedly pretty punchable as Miles, who feels like a stand-in for Elon Musk.
Netflix paid $469 million for the rights to two Knives Out sequels. Despite this, the budget for Glass Onion is $40 million, the same as its predecessor. You wouldn’t guess this based on the production values, which are taken to the next level. Where the first film primarily set itself in a claustrophobic mansion, Glass Onion immerses us on an almost otherworldly island adorned with priceless artwork. As its name suggests, glass also plays a key component in the structure. The production design looks phenomenal, but you know what they say: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” One character learns this the hard way in one of the most mind-blowing finales of recent memory.