Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
"Rian Johnson's knife is sharper and more precise the second time out." | Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival

Rian Johnson's knife is sharper and more precise the second time out, which given Elon Musk's continued high profile personal Twitter storm feels as cutting edge in terms of background theme as it is possible to be. This, however, coupled with the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, might see it date quite significantly in years to come - but then, this is a deliberate trifle, more intended to be savoured in the moment than left to mature.

The Elon Musk-type tech whizz at its heart is Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Satire is just as much the name of the game as the murder mystery element although once Johnson has got things set up, the puzzle plotting works well enough.

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Bron has invited a select group of friends to his private island for a murder-mystery weekend, with the guests including scandal-hit ex-model  Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), slightly klutzy political wannabe Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), gung (and gun)-ho social influencer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), and scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr). Also along for the ride is Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe), a former ally who has lost to Bron in court thanks to the rest choosing sides, Duke's girlfriend Whiskey (Madeleine Cline) and, of course, crack detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, who seems to have perfected his southern drawl between films). Blanc has an invitation for reasons that are not immediately obvious, even to Bron.

The set-up is elaborate and rather over-long, as each of the main protagonists is seen receiving an intricate puzzle box, which they solve with help from one another over Zoom - with the exception of Andi, who has a better idea. Nevertheless, Johnson liberally sprinkles it with visual and scripted humour along with some sweetly worked in cameos, including the late-great Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury - which the end credits pay tribute to.

On the island is a mansion topped with the glass onion of the title, which proves to be little more than a giant playroom for the vacuous Bron, including ridiculous amounts of glass and art, including - due to Covid Louvre closure - the Mona Lisa. The film finds its groove once a death finally happens and the investigative element is allowed to kick in by virtue of a solid reveal. After that, it canters along not just at pace but with a better flow all round, while the humour is still employed with the precision of a stiletto.

Beyond the story, the cast have plenty of fun and Jenny Eagan's costume design is gorgeous. The scoring from Nathan Johnson is also a delight, knowing enough to include nods to the likes of James Bond but bold enough to avoid becoming pale pastiche and dovetailing nicely with the strategic employment of, among others, Nat King Cole's Mona Lisa.

Reviewed on: 27 Dec 2022
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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery packshot
Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece for his latest case.
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Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Starring: Jessica Henwick, Ethan Hawke, Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Madelyn Kline

Year: 2022

Runtime: 139 minutes

Country: US

Streaming on: Netflix

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