Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery [TIFF22 Review]

Knives Out was monumental when released three years ago; it proved that Johnson’s pen could do no wrong regardless of genre. As someone who continues to switch between the genre he’s working in (neo-noir, heist, sci-fi, sci-fi again), he’s able to make an extremely well-crafted film while also appealing to a general audience. When it was announced he would be doing a murder mystery film, it was exciting to be able to witness his great script filled with all the crucial twists and turns that are a staple of the genre. When he made a sequel, all we could hope would be that he strikes gold again. And he does, for the most part. 

Without any spoilers to anything outside of the film’s central premise, the movie takes place at the height of COVID. Miles (Edward Norton) invites his group of friends and Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to come by and see if they can solve a mystery, the person who killed him. Early on, we get great lush images of everyone’s lifestyles as they receive an invitation that reminds me a lot of the Escape Room films. 

As for the why and how’s of it all, you’ll have to wait until Netflix releases the film but still wishful that they at least put it out in some capacity because it is a film that deserves to be seen on the big screen. Not only due to the great work that Rian’s longtime cinematographer Steve Yedlin produces, but the element of watching it with a crowd. The film takes place during COVID, and during the past two years, we’ve needed a big, almost “escapism” type of film on the big screen for the big crowds and audiences. It is a film that can bring people back to the theatres outside of the dozen or so MCU projects they release a year.

As we previously saw in Knives Out, Glass Onion’s cast is stacked and filled with many incredible actors. Madelyn Cline, Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., and Dave Bautista. The film’s highlights belong to Monáe and Bautista, who give incredibly nuanced performances hidden between the scale of it all.

I don’t believe Glass Onion reaches the same heights as its predecessor, but it gets incredibly close. While the HPCU (Hercule Poirot Cinematic Universe) expands, we are given decent (Death on the Nile) to pretty good (Murder on the Orient Express) adaptations of Agatha Christie’s iconic novels. Johnson shows us his interpretation of the feeling of the novels, and they are put through his vision, making it worth multiple trips to the theatres (or your Netflix account, it seems). I might change my opinion on second and third watches, but that doesn’t diminish my love for this now, soon-to-be trilogy and hopefully a franchise one day. 

I look forward to these returns and rewatches as the enjoyment of these films is revisiting them and seeing if you can solve the crime this time around. Be able to find the clues, the red herrings, and see if you can compete with Blanc. 

Rian Johnson has said that if it were up to him, they’d continue making these alongside Daniel Craig (who is even better this time) for as long as he’d like. And Netflix should let them.