2022 was a year full of movies to look forward to, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery was at the forefront of my list. With the lovely surprise that was 2019's Knives Out, I couldn't wait to see Rian Johnson return to, well not exactly the world of Knives Out, but at least to its central character, detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig).
This time, instead of Blanc delving into the complexities of a family leeching off a wealthy patriarch, he is whisked off to a billionaire's island for a splashy murder mystery game (where, of course, there will end up being an actual murder). But even before the murder takes place, there's some tension brewing between billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) and his bilked Eduardo Saverin-like counterpart Andi Brand (Janelle Monae), which leads to some awkward interactions as the friend group (whose members' careers may or may not have been gotten healthy bumps from Bron's billions) gathers to have a fun weekend.
Glass Onion, compared to Knives Out, is a more sprawling, less cozy, ambitious movie, but it's still got an edge, this time directed towards billionaires and the people who surround them, as well as the stories they all tell themselves (and about themselves). The movie is less straightforward than Knives Out, and it likes to sit in the discomfort and unknowing in a way that may feel boring to some viewers. But that time spent getting to know the inner workings of this friend group (Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Dave Bautista, and Madelyn Cline) and how they became who they are now, pays off, and the performances as well as the comedy keep the movie fun, even during the 'slower' parts.
While Glass Onion does lean into the gorgeous setting and some very cool looking clothes (I cannot get over Benoit Blanc's seersucker swimsuit), it doesn't rely solely on the aesthetics of the murder mystery. Unlike most contemporary whodunits, there is actual substance as well as charm in the unravelling of the film's central mystery. The characters are spiky, and their dynamics work well within the context of the story and the world that it is trying to present. It's also nice that the film's value is not completely tied up in its twist; there is value in the overlooked clues sprinkled throughout, setting Glass Onion up to be a nice rewatch, so you can catch all the bits you missed the first time around.
As for where Glass Onion fell short, some of the dialogue at the beginning was quite clunky, especially as the major characters were introduced. And, more impactfully, the movie's ending felt both over explained and over done, demoting what would have been a cleverly charged ending to an okay one. For a movie that was otherwise so thoughtful and restrained, it was a letdown to see its ending tear apart the layers that the audience member should be peeling apart themselves on their way out of the film. It was just a tad disappointing to see the otherwise sharp movie making sure everything was made as transparent as humanly possible before the lights went up.
But to be fair, it is a glass onion after all.
After a brief release window in theaters, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery debuts on Netflix December 23, 2022.
Can't wait to see Glass Onion? Check out these other whodunits to watch while you wait.