FILM REVIEW — A “Knives Out” sequel that’s even better than the original

Published 12:02 am Friday, December 23, 2022

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

Netflix

Directed by Rian Johnson

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Starring Daniel Craig, Ed Norton, Janelle Monae, Kate Hudson, Katheryn Hahn, Dave Bautista and Leslie Odom Jr.

Rated PG-13

3 1/2 Stars

Following the unexpected success of Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” in 2019, Netflix plopped down a staggering $450 million for the rights to the next two sequels.

It was a big gamble, but the bet seems to be paying off because the first of those sequels, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is a crowd-pleasing, Murder-mystery delight.

The new film retains all of the silly charm of the original and ratchets things up a notch. The characters are funnier, the production design is more lavish and the mystery is harder to crack.

The only thing that remains the same is detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who is as charming as ever.

This time around he’s been invited to a private Greek island owned by a Billionaire tech disrupter (Edward Norton), where he will be tasked with solving a murder that hasn’t happened yet. The island is filled with all manner of suspicious guests, including a model-turned-influencer (Kate Hudson), the governor of Connecticut (Katheryn Hahn), a gun-loving men’s rights advocate (Dave Bautista), a disgruntled scientist (Leslie Odom Jr.) and the billionaire’s former friend and business partner (Janelle Monae).

Who is the killer and who will be killed? That’s the mystery detective Blanc sets out to solve, in a case with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing the whole way through.

“Glass Onion” features a cast of actors who are obviously having a blast making this movie, and their enthusiasm is infectious. These aren’t very likeable characters, but it’s impossible to take your eyes off of these over-the-top performances.

That’s especially true with Janelle Monae. If you ever doubted she was a movie star before, this movie will put those doubts to rest.

The other shining star here is writer/director Rian Johnson. This is a filmmaker so adept at his craft that he had me riveted during the opening sequence, which is nothing more than the characters trying to open an ornate puzzle box.

A good chunk of the film is devoted to what is essentially a party invitation. Johnson takes this inconsequential moment and turns it into a masterclass in filmmaking showmanship.

Never fear—the real mystery will soon rear is ugly head, daring Blanc (and the audience) to try and figure out what’s really going on. It had me stumped for much of the film, which is the mark of a well-designed mystery plot, or a dumb film critic. Either way, it all culminates with Blanc laying his cards on the table in a gonzo reveal that left me grinning at the sheer audacity of the finale.

Dare I say it? As much as I loved “Knives Out” three years ago, “Glass Onion” is even better.

Couple that with the undeniable audience appeal of this juicy little murder mystery as well as the too-cold-to-even-think-about-going-outside weather forecast, and Netflix’ $450 million buy is starting to look like a bargain indeed.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Port Arthur Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at sean@seanthemovieguy.com.