Knives Out was an absolute smash when it was released in 2019 thanks to its star-studded ensemble and its fun, unique script by Rian Johnson. A sequel was inevitable, and while Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story is headed to Netflix instead of theaters, it has significantly increased the scale of the mystery, to mixed effect.
The film follows Benoit Blanc as he sets out on another murder mystery, this time taking him to Greece to the private island of a wealthy tecn mogul. What exactly does this mystery entail? As is the case with the first movie, it is important to experience and enjoy this as cold and spoiler-free as possible.
With this film and its considerably larger budget, Johnson consistently tries to up the ante. And while many of his ambitious swings pay off quite well, Glass Onion often feels like it was made by someone who wasn’t ever told no. This does allow for an even more wild and twisty mystery, but it also contributes to some gags that simply fall short.
Like Knives Out, this film’s humor thrives on the absurdity of its characters. The pieces are there for this ragtag bunch of rich jerks to be just as hilarious as the Drysdale family, but Johsnon’s script doesn’t develop them enough to be effective. Characters like Dave Bautista’s conservative Twitch streamer or Kate Hudson’s controversial popstar show a lot of potential but don’t commit to their full extent.
It’s obviously nice to see Craig back in his role as the famed Southern detective, and again, he chews the scenery. It’s the type of performance that Craig obviously had a blast doing. However, his character this time around has very little arc, and it’s frustrating to see that the growth he had in this movie was essentially the same as what he did in the last one.
The rest of the ensemble is filled with talented actors like Leslie Odom Jr., Kathryn Hahn, Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, and Ethan Hawke, but all of them feel extremely underused. The only two actors in the supporting cast who are especially memorable in their roles are Janelle Monáe and Edward Norton.
The film definitely has a much bigger budget than the last, turning in the New England mansion of the first one for a picturesque Greek villa setting in this one. Johnson does an exceptional job of taking advantage of the natural beauty of the setting to create something that feels alluring and sexy, yet also deadly at the same time.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery may not be as strong as the first outing, but Rian Johsnon continues to deliver movies that are enjoyable as hell. Audiences absolutely will eat this up, although it is a shame that it will be released on Netflix, as that means most viewers won’t get the opportunity to see it on the big screen with an enthusiastic crowd — which is how this film is best experienced.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, which runs September 8-18.