Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)- Review: 2019’s Knives Out had a name that really fit. Remember the chair with the unique backdrop? It also had a wonderful detective in Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc. The creative knife backdrop and the professional sleuth really struck a chord with the masses, leading the suits at Netflix to concoct the idea of a film series. Did we have to call it the Benoit Blanc series? They clearly didn’t, as Knives Out seemed the way forward.
Writer and director Rian Johnson dug deep into pop culture and came up with a creative name- Glass Onion. It originated from a song that played at the end of the movie. The writer for that track revealed he penned lyrics to confuse people who read too much into the content. That’s exactly what was present in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
It provided food for thought to the over-analyzers. The glass onion in the Netflix Original could be seen as the metaphor for ‘Castle of Glass’. One could also view it as how a mystery is like an onion where layers must be peeled off to get to the center. Rian Johnson used the audience’s knowledge about Agatha Christie-styled films. He played on their expectations of the complex and brilliant to come up with something extremely valuable for those who do their research and pay attention to the mundane.
You may have gone/will go wow at the nomenclature and would have raised/will raise a quizzical brow at the malapropisms. Everything in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is there for a reason. And the A-List cast does not disappoint one bit.
Daniel Craig and Edward Norton stand out in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
In his second outing at Benoit Blanc, Daniel Craig seems to have cemented himself as an iconic character. The drawl, the ease of getting involved with people around him, and the way Rian Johnson’s writing positions him as the smartest man in the room will win him admirers who would want to see him return. They will not be disappointed, as Craig seems to have found himself a franchise after departing the James Bond series. He played Blanc so well that one could be forgiven for saying they missed out on something as they were watching him.
Edward Norton appeared in a mass film after years. A reclusive figure on the silver screen, Norton’s character of Miles Bron seemed to be a mirror of him. It was his presence that drew me to this sequel. Why? Does anyone remember a poor Norton movie? Would Netflix have underused such a huge name? This question about the three-time Academy Award nominee helped me blast past one very obvious trail of breadcrumbs.
Janelle Monae’s turn in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery helped her stand out from the cast, which included the likes of Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, Kate Hudson, Madelyn Cline, and Lionel Odom Jr. Her spectacular portrayal of a compelling and mysterious character, Andi Brand, attracted attention. This allowed the tidbits of the remaining guests to slide under the radar. Was that supposed to happen?
While the actors portrayed their characters well and elevated the writing, it proved to be unhelpful if Rian Johnson wanted audiences to pay attention. He eliminated the obvious. Or did he?
Rian Johnson’s writing teases detective thriller audiences
The subtle and direct dialogues, things characters mentioned indirectly and in passing, and the screenplay having crucial things just after the obvious were truly remarkable. Every word, action, and appearance on the screen had deep meaning behind it. As seasoned detective film cinephiles may expect a red herring, the writer presented one in such an obvious fashion that may have seen them lower their guard.
Rian Johnson even threw in distractions as a smokescreen to hoodwink the audience. It was truly something that anyone creating a puzzle would do, as they would love to sit and watch the audience struggle to decode it. As each scene played out, they would scour social media to see if people were watching closely. They would also hope that cinephiles joined the dots and eliminated the cleverly planted distractions.
The writer seemed to trick and tease his audience with each line of the screenplay. Hence, a film like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery would have immense rewatch value.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is ‘Hollywoodized’
What made this film good despite the fiery ‘Hollywoodized’ ending was the retention of the simplicity of the first installment. We got that in spades between the slightly elongated first act and that final act. While the payoff for that longish wait before the party began came from the part where the onion layers peeled away, the conclusion just didn’t sit well. It turned what should have been a detective story into a Hollywood revenge tale. To be fair, Rian Johnson warned audiences that it would be a roller coaster rather than a crossword puzzle.
Audiences have seen this with Money Heist in the past. The show was simple and effective, before becoming grand, over the top, and divisive later on. Glass Onion’s final 20 minutes felt that way. Rian Johnson tried to make it fit, but this film should have ended right when a popular detective film theory was debunked. That would have been just perfect. Those who have already watched this 139-minute film may agree with me.
However, in all fairness, the conclusion did close all the threads opened over the course of the film.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is streaming on Netflix.