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A Tiny Review of Glass Onion


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There is much to say about Glass Onion, the long-awaited sequel to Rian Johnson’s 2019 whodunnit Knives Out, and I will say much more shortly. But for now, let me assure you that Glass Onion is a treat in its own right—a well-written, well-acted, multi-layered mystery extravaganza. This is a mini-review, spoiler-free and vague by design, existing merely to confer enthusiastic approval so that as many of you who want to see it in theaters can know if it is worth your time doing so.

In short: it is.

See, following several successful film festival screenings, Glass Onion has a limited theatrical release in 600 theaters across America this Thanksgiving week before it goes back into its vault until December 23rd, when it will be released on Netflix.

If you can get yourself to a theater this week, it is absolutely worth seeing Glass Onion on the big screen. Whodunnits are often about containment, but this does not apply to viewing dimensions! Johnson has crafted a whodunnit full of spectacular visuals that deserves the biggest screen you can find.

The film takes place in Greece—specifically a tiny Greek island owned by a doofus-y, faux-hippie tech billionaire named Miles Bron (Edward Norton). To this island, he has invited a coterie of old friends: an narcissistic model named Birdie (Kate Hudson) and her capable assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick), a Type-A politician named Claire (Kathryn Hahn), a worried scientist named Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), a gun-toting right-wing social media influencer named Duke (David Bautista) and his MAGA-y Gen-Z girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), and a steely former collaborator, Andi (Janelle Monáe). Plus, of course, the gentleman detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). Everyone is there for a weekend, guests at Bron’s murder mystery party.

Glass Onion is entirely its own film—there are enough constants threading the first film to the second, but it has its own story, its own tone, its own tricks.

Glass Onion has its own personality—there are enough constants threading the first film to the second, but it has its own story, its own tone, its own tricks. There are plenty of twists and surprises and puzzles and riddles and references and in-jokes and cameos—but, importantly, like its predecessor, it has a very warm (and class conscious!) emotional center. As always, Benoit Blanc is not here to provide the upper-classes with a show, to indulge their narcissistic fantasies or even play along with their machinations. He’s not even here to simply solve a mystery. No, he is here to make sure that an injustice is properly undone.

The first film bottled its characters up in a mansion, this new one bottles them up on a private island. The last case was a doughnut and this case is an onion. But Glass Onion is far less subtle than its predecessor; it’s much more absurd, much more outrageous, and a bit far-fetched. (At the same time, witnessing the potential for destruction embodied by an insecure billionaire who wants everyone to think he’s super cool might be much, much more realistic. Ahem.)

Whodunnits live outside of the realm of the everyday, but they are still often, by their very natures, quotidian. This tonal departure makes sense given the new film’s source material; Knives Out owes itself to movies like Sleuth while Glass Onion is an homage to Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins’s cruise ship-set, megalomaniac-heavy mystery The Last of Sheila. The wealth in Glass Onion is supercilious, garish, and almost fascistic—at times, it feels a bit like the island belongs to Dr. No. But Blanc (and his urbane, quizzical sensibilities) easily settle into this new setting just as much as the series’s conventions settle neatly into this widened scope, unearthing a murder plot far more global than the last Massachussetts-set mystery.

There will be those who think Glass Onion is even better than Knives Out. It is certainly the same caliber as the first one in terms of richness and quality, though I might personally prefer the first one. But that’s just me.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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