This film is as cameo and spoiler-filled as any MCU project and is as well thought-out and executed as any awards film this year. Rian Johnson again proves to be one of the few directors who can make such a splash with every audience member, and I think it is time we start treating him as one of the best filmmakers in the business.
*This review is spoiler free.*
When Rian Johnson’s Knives Out came out, it was a complete shift in the director’s career. It was his first film since releasing one of the franchise’s most divisive Star Wars films. When it came to The Last Jedi, people either loved it or absolutely despised it, and when it came to Knives Out, it looked as though Johnson would be able to put all of that behind him. Knives Out didn’t just catapult the director back onto the winning side with audiences, but it put him in genuine consideration for awards. He picked up the first Oscar nomination of his career for Original Screenplay, and not long after, he was able to sell the distribution rights of the two sequels to Netflix for an astounding $450 million. Now, Johnson didn’t have to choose whether to be a blockbuster filmmaker or an award one because he figured out a way to use his talents and capitalize on both within the same franchise.
In his newest whodunnit, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the story of legendary detective Benoit Blanc, played for a second time by Daniel Craig, is pushed even further. This outing follows a group of friends on a weekend getaway at the private island of Miles Bron (Edward Norton), who has gathered everyone for a murder mystery party during the height of COVID lockdown. What was considered a game turns into reality, and it is up to Benoit Blanc to figure out the murderer before it’s too late.
Whodunnit sequels, in general, are always tricky to pull off, especially from the same writer. There is an easy path for the follow-up to feel far too much like the original, causing a lack of new and exciting content that doesn’t feel rehashed or reshaped. With Knives Out, Johnson captured lightning in a bottle, but with Glass Onion, he learned to harness it in only a way the best writer/directors can.
In this cameo- and spoiler-filled sequel, Johnson manages to keep the hilarity while also effectively juggling the murder and the mystery of the story. Begging to be seen in a theater, this whodunnit is more traditional than Knives Out but includes all the pieces that make his films feel different. Craig’s Benoit Blanc is back in full form as the actor follows up his Golden Globes-nominated performance with an even better outing the second time. Gone are the tropes of whodunnits and the detectives that solve the cases, and in comes Craig, giving a fully bombastic and assertive performance. Everything about his second outing is maximized; the humor, the problem-solving, and the confidence all come together to give a far different Detective Blanc than seen in Knives Out.
But his performance wouldn’t have worked without a fully committed cast of supporting actors coming with him along the way. Every performance was believable and hilarious, but it was Kate Hudson and Janelle Monáe who really stood out from the rest. Hudson is hilarious and easily the funniest part, as a former star looking to keep capitalizing on her name. However, it is Monáe’s magnificent turn in this film that truly should be recognized. Monáe is daring, confident, and suave as she plays Blanc’s right-hand woman with extra motive. It’s by far the best performance of her career and easily one of the best of the entire year.
With something like Glass Onion, there isn’t much you can say about it without giving it away. This film is as cameo and spoiler-filled as any MCU project and is as well thought-out and executed as any awards film this year. Rian Johnson again proves to be one of the few directors who can make such a splash with every audience member. I think it is time we start treating him as one of the best filmmakers in the business.
Likely: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Janelle Monáe), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design
Should be Considered: Best Lead Actor (Daniel Craig)
Release Date: In Theaters November 23-29; Netflix December 23
Where to Watch: In Select Theaters; Netflix
Loves movies, the awards season, and this dog (even if he isn’t his).
Favorite Director: Bo Burnham
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