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GLASS ONION: A Whodunit Lacking Style & Smarts

An eccentric billionaire invites some old pals to a murder mystery party on his remote island, only to discover the famed Benoit Blanc has crashed to solve a real crime. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery brings together an all-star cast to take us on a whodunit adventure. While the pieces are there for a fascinating puzzle, the final product is an overstuffed film that doesn’t have the same satirical smarts as the first.

After receiving an intricate puzzle box, a group of successful friends (Kathryn HahnLeslie Odom Jr.Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista) find invitations to a party on the private island of their friend Miles Bron (Edward Norton), a grossly wealthy tech founder. They soon arrive at the estate dubbed the “Glass Onion, settling in for an unforgettable weekend.

However, they are surprised by the arrival of Andi (Janelle Monáe), Mile’s former business partner whom he recently forced out. But there’s an even more unexpected guest when detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives, having received an invitation, but unbeknownst to Miles.

As Blanc gets acquainted with the guests, it’s clear he’s fishing for information as the weekend takes a dark turn, bringing everyone’s secrets to the surface.

When Knives Out was released, it immediately became one of my favorite films. Writer and director Rian Johnson had crafted something special with an excellent ensemble cast. It was so unexpected and quite the feat that an original film could spawn an anthology franchise with our new favorite detective. 

Glass Onion certainly had big shoes to fill, and unfortunately, it doesn’t feel as effortless as the first. The humor feels cheap and lacks the subtlety and smarts of the previous script.

The films biggest theme is mocking the elite, but that message falls flat as it again lacks a witty nature. Even the choice to have the film set during the Covid pandemic was weak to the plot. Frankly, commentary on pandemic behaviors is exhausting at this point, especially if you have nothing clever to add.

The first act spends its time getting us acquainted with all the characters, which honestly felt rather bland. The setup is tedious, and characters feel as though they lack a sort of dynamism — though the cast all do a fabulous job with their respective performances regardless.

As the film continues to dive into elitism and tear it apart, it becomes more of a caricature. Knives Out felt so rooted in reality. While it’s satire and over the top, it still examines real personas and family dynamics, even if that family is part of the elite. In Glass Onion, everything feels over the top in a way that loses viewer connection. It all feels like a juvenile skit.

It might be a disservice to compare to the first film since it was so flawless, but to have such a lackluster follow-up is a let down. The first film had a stellar ensemble cast that just effortlessly fit together, and the story unraveled compellingly. This film didn’t have that. Though, I will give it some credit for a few decent red herrings.

It felt too focused on celebrity—whether through name drops or the “look-who-we-got” cameos—without really saying anything meaningful about celebrity culture. And in the end, the grand reveal of the killer felt less than grand.

Though I am still excited about continuing the series and following Blanc on a future mystery, Glass Onion was rather forgetful. I’m hoping the next installment can get back to those effective character dynamics and a mystery interwoven with smart satire and polished execution.

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