TIFF: For the second “Knives Out,” Johnson and his stacked cast have a great time deconstructing and re-orienting the whodunit. The audience will too.
Before you worry too much about dissecting the meaning of “Glass Onion,” both the main titles of Rian Johnson’s second “Knives Out” feature (and just as delightful and inspired as the first film) And The name of a Beatles song from their White album, we’ll just go ahead and direct you to the lead song (likely?) of the 1968 jam: “Well, here’s another clue for you all / The Walrus was Paul.” Talk about a one-ha moment, right? I wish John and Paul were having a little fun with that particular kitty, because much of their “Glass Onion” is less about evoking fan theories than directly punching holes.
It’s an apt title for Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” which delights in the unspooling principles, bread and butter of the genre, and then right through them to find something a little more witty and entertaining. Rest assured: Johnson isn’t recreating the mystery film with “Glass Onion,” but he’s having a hell of a time deconstructing it lightly and reproducing it in line with his whipsmart script and central super detective. doing. Perhaps the only whodunit in which its main character, after solving the film’s central crime, will declare it all.”so dumb!“(And let there be both right and wrong in that declaration), and all the better for it.
Johnson doesn’t have to worry about a sophomore meltdown, because while “Glass Onion” bears some resemblance to his 2019 smash hit (stacked cast, gorgeous locations, Daniel Craig having the time of his goddamn life), it Sequel is Zippily and Zainly. Thrill ride, and Johnson can’t get these kids out fast enough.
Set in May of 2020—and the very “early pandemic” film, and not just because Johnson lives in the COVID-era when it comes to presenting his characters, a properly zoomed-in one from Katherine Hahn Until the masked Daniel Craig, but because the film offers the kind of wholesome charm we all so desperately needed then—and now—“Glass Onion” differs from its predecessor right out of the gate. It’s clear that Johnson is putting on his new periphery this time, entering the scene long before someone is murdered (about half the film actually goes before someone dies), slowly introducing his larger cast ( Though holding back on how they really are (all so bonded), and misdirecting everyone and everything toward another (kind?) crime before the actual bloodshed begins.
Anyone who has seen not only “knives out” but any other whodunit mystery should be wary of accepting the handy signs and codes that appear in their first act, but Johnson is presenting important information correctly for starters. Used to be. One of the genre’s real tricks: performing the essentials—who knows who and why and how and what that means—feel lucky and fun and exhilarating, which is what Johnson does with aplomb. we know someone (maybe even Different someone) will kick the bucket before the movie is over, but Johnson makes us wait for a while, before slingshotting back by dragging the first half of the film with a sticky little mystery and reimagining the entire kit and caboodle. does.
The whole time, Craig’s Benoit Blanc sees it all. But it’s unclear when we begin, as the bourbon-mouthed spy falls into a state of great disarray. Lockdown has been tough on Benoit, who has taken to spending all day in the bathtub, with a cadre of famous friends not well shaken even by Zooms (the film is rife with cameos, none of which will be spoiled here). . He really needs a great case to wake his brain back up, and it just so happens, it’s shaping up as he lays in the tub.
Across the country, a variety of charming personalities are receiving massive wooden boxes that, after only a few clever gestures, reveal themselves as a plethora of esoteric games, with a slew of invitations to their secret center. There is also an explosion. We soon meet their recipients, a decidedly strange collection of seemingly great friends, including the striving Governor Claire (Hahn), the semi-cancelled-influenced Birdie J (Kate Hudson, as iconic as ever), the scattered scientists Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Musclehead. YouTube star Duke (Dave Bautista). Thrilled out of each box, it’s all part of the outlandish joy of being friends with billionaire Miles Braun (Edward Norton is doing his own spin on Elon Musk), who loves sports and twists and turns and takes part in his annual A very strange friend draws the group as well. Design your own holidays.
This time: Greece (filmed on location, and looking absolutely fabulous), a private island, a long weekend, and the promise of a murder mystery game, just for laughs. But someone else is invited along with the world’s best detective Benot Blanc, and while that may sound like the best party favor in the world, anyone with a half-brain knows to run for the hills if Blanc is to be found guilty of murder. is sent to solve, because it means someone is about to die. (the question is not so much this time HowBut Who?, Now it’s a twist on top of a turn.)
And who of these guys—plus an excellent Janelle Monáe as Miles’ steely ex-partner Andy, Jessica Henwick as Birdie’s right-hand girl Peg, and Madeline Cline as Duke’s girlfriend Whiskey, all of them Also come along for the ride and add a lot to the action – at least half a brain really? Perhaps this is Benoit Blanc’s biggest secret.
Along the way, Johnson grapples with his own holes in capitalism, the lifestyles of the rich and famous (eyes open to Miles’s Hawking robot), influential culture, pandemic concerns, and even our current energy crisis. Eliminate at least half a dozen. Very good jokes about both Jeremy Renner and “hard” kombucha. (You can practically feel Johnson and cinematographer Steve Yedlin rolling your eyes at the wild world these people inhabit, brought to rich life by a talented production design team, and that’s truly a compliment.)
It would be silly to say more about the plot, as it would both spoil a film that is at its best when it misdirects and redirects and constantly turns in and out of itself (a glass of onion). kind, it takes a lot of layers to peel off) , though the answer is actually pretty obvious) and detracts from the joy of unpacking such a respected secret in increasingly bright ways. Fans of the first “Knives Out” will find similar elements to love, though Johnson has worked hard to make sure “Glass Onion” stands alone, thanks to its self-contained story and the filmmaker’s efforts to replicate his old tricks. due to resistance. ,
In one piece, the pair (and at least one more to come, although at the film’s TIFF premiere, Craig said he wanted to keep making these films for a lifetime, and Johnson vowed to keep making them until the until his star stops taking his phone calls) thread together beautifully. If you loved Benoit Blanc in “Knives Out,” a KFC-divided dandy who somehow manages to be the smartest, nastiest, and most sympathetic person in the room, another wacky-rich whodunit. thrown in the deep end of. will only fascinate you more. Craig is never as easy, as loose silly As made out in Blanc’s signature neck scarf, and suffice it to say, the man wears a lot of neck scarves in this movie (plus a really excellent swimsuit).
As Blanc “solves” one mystery, another comes right up, and Johnson happily switches gears to tell a whole new story, wrapped inside his first one (like an onion? Oh, sure.) form) and then turned inside out (like bloomin’ onions) let’s not get very silly) to divert minds and tickle your audience and start a totally delightful thing all over again. Why have these people been brought together? Which of them is the killer? Which of them is the killer? (Actually, a major question in the enjoyment of this zigging and zagging style.)
Asked and answered: Who can settle the matter? (Benoit Blanc!) And who would love to see it? (Well, you can probably guess, we’ve given you all the clues.)
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. Netflix will release it in theaters later this year and on its streaming platform on Friday, December 23.