Famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously invited to the island resort of Miles Bron (Edward Norton), a billionaire tech mogul - along with his closest friends (Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae). On the island, Bron has concocted a murder mystery game, which spirals out of control as real murders start to take place...
It's exceedingly rare nowadays that a sequel feels not only earned, but almost necessary. In the case of 'Knives Out', the story and the characters were devised in such a way that it felt as though it could go either way. It could be a singular event or an entrée into a longer series of deviously devised murders with a plucky detective at the centre. Daniel Craig's outrageously put-upon accent, mixing Foghorn Leghorn with Columbo, seemed to suggest the latter. A wry observer of rich people's evils, sent to them and allowing them to commit all kinds of crimes in front of his all-seeing eyes. It practically writes itself into a series.
So it goes with 'Glass Onion', another stupendously silly concoction of rich assholes and their awful dealings in beautiful surroundings. Where 'Knives Out' was set inside the palatial home of a crime novelist, 'Glass Onion' is set on the Greek island belonging to a tech-bro billionaire played with panache by Edward Norton. As with the last movie, the cast assembled is a delight. The list of suspects is all "disruptors" - each of them full of their own LinkedIn hype bullshit, each of them morally and ethically compromised. Kate Hudson channels her mother in 'Overboard' as the vacuous style guru, Dave Bautista plays a Dan Bilzerian-adjacent streamer, while Kathryn Hahn plays a politician ready to throw herself behind any half-baked scheme to get reelected. Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monae, however, are tighter in the net - one is a scientist working on a secret project for Norton's character, the other has a much more complex relationship.
What 'Glass Onion' does so well and what makes it so much fun is the act of peeling back the layers and revealing the reveals. If it's ludicrous, if it makes your head spin, if it's kind of obvious in parts, if you've figured it out already - so what?! You're having so much fun along the way that these issues fall by the side of the road. The cast assembled are all playing to their strengths, hidden or otherwise. Edward Norton, in particular, displaying a real knack for comedy, both in some later costume choices and his general air of obliviousness. Kate Hudson, as mentioned, has a perfect rhythm for her vapid utterances while Kathryn Hahn has the shrillness to play a continuously put-upon operator. The fun with the cast doesn't stop there, as the cameos for this are numerous and dotted around the movie like so many of the expensive artworks in the island retreat.
Rian Johnson taking Netflix's money and carefully and joyfully crafting a gigantic middle finger to rich people and tech disruptor mythology out of it really is something to behold. What's more, you can see every penny of it spent on the screen. On a cinema screen, it looks gorgeous and the rich colours are only secondary to the stunning production design. Nathan Johnson's playful score of harpsichords just adds to the deliciously devious air of pulpy murder mystery. The pacing of 'Glass Onion' is such that you're pulled back and forth from present to past, lines crossing each other, tangling you entirely before it all becomes suddenly so clear.
Playful but skilful, 'Glass Onion' is a crowd-pleasing delight that more than earns its right to exist alongside 'Knives Out'. If only all sequels were this good.