Rian Johnson is one of pop culture’s most controversial icons. Sci-fi fans loathe him, as he took a massive dump on the beloved Star Wars franchise with The Last Jedi. Honestly, it was this travesty of a film that made me look into who was to blame. Rian seemingly either did not like the space opera or was so woefully out of touch with the storyline that he had no business being in control of such a beloved series.
Previously, he was the director behind Looper, which I admit was a pretty decent film. I loved the use of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a younger version of Bruce Willis’ master action hero. However, even this was not enough to cool the fires of contempt for his assault on Star Wars.
I am not typically a whodunit fan. Unlike many people, I don’t watch a movie, trying to connect all the dots to form a mental picture of who I think is the perpetrator. Usually, I am wrong, which is obviously the reason that I don’t particularly care for the genre (and it tells me I am a poor judge of character).
So, I begrudgingly watched the original Knives Out, and to say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. To me, it is a piece of cinematic gold; a film that will go down as one of the best, not only in the genre, but also in film history. My opinion of Johnson changed from utter disdain to, “Wow, this guy really can make a good movie.”
He made amends with Knives Out, so a sequel was inevitable.
That sequel is available on Netflix. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery picks up the further adventures of Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). In this murder mystery, Benoit finds himself invited to an island owned by billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). While Benoit may have not been an official invitee, the rest of the ensemble was, including Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick), streamer-turned-men’s-rights activist Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), Cody’s girlfriend, Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), and lead scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.).
Among them is also Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Janelle Monáe), who was Bron’s former business partner before he and the rest of the attendees screwed her over in court, cutting her out of the money that she rightfully deserved. Everything starts out cordial enough, even with the oddity that Benoit’s presence brings. Soon murder rears its ugly head, and it is up to the world’s greatest detective (unless you count Batman) to solve not only who did it, but the motive behind the killing.
Glass Onion is very much like its predecessor, but also vastly different. In Knives Out, we had an ensemble cast of Hollywood talent, from legends like Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson and Toni Collette, alongside newer talent, such as Ana de Armas and Jaeden Martell. And the tradition continues in Glass Onion, pairing household names like Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn and Kate Hudson with relatively new stars Dave Bautista and Janelle Monáe. The formula works out great in both cases. Daniel Craig shines as the central figure, despite all the other characters, weaving the story together, from beginning to end.
But unlike the first film, Glass Onion takes a different road. We do not get the first on-screen death until the middle of the movie. And soon, more murders take place, leaving us with many different avenues to go down. However, this is not the biggest flaw in the film.
The biggest flaw is how Glass Onion feels like the cast is in on the fact that it is a movie. Everything seems to play out directly in front of the suspects, with them divulging secrets that would implicate them in the murders without even a moment’s hesitation. It is like Rian Johnson wanted the cast and audience to play a game of Clue together. And this is a problem.
For me, in order for a whodunit to feel authentic, the actors need to act as if they do not have any other knowledge of what they shouldn’t know. Only the audience should have a “god-like” understanding of each of their stories, but Glass Onion leaves nothing to the imagination. It puts everything on a silver platter. Rian changed the formula that worked in the original, and like the fabled New Coke, it left a bad taste in my mouth.
While it pains me to say this, Glass Onion is a mediocre film, at best. I give it three out of five stars. Rian Johnson redeemed himself after The Last Jedi debacle with Knives Out. He wanted another hit film under his belt and tinkered with what made the original great. If you want a great murder mystery, Glass Onion will leave you in tears. The cast is great, but poor directing and/or writing has doomed it to the same Bad Sequels pile as films like Jaws 2, Son of the Mask and Teen Wolf Too.
Benoit Blanc may have another mystery left in him, however, Glass Onion is not it.