- Gareth Crook
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) - 7/10
Sequels are generally a bad idea. Especially when not really required and they’re more of a spin off. I really liked Knives Out though and as I said at the time, who doesn’t love a whodunnit? The first film stood on the strength of its characters and the twists they took. This feels a bit different at the outset. Instead of the slightly removed world of the original, everyone together in the good old fashioned house for some old fashioned sleuthing. Here we’re a bit more modern, with tech billionaires and Covid references. I’m a cynical viewer and this along with some instantly dislikable characters puts me a little on edge. The puzzles are here though and the characters will all be pulled together, but it’s the no bullshit introduction of Janelle Monáe as Andi that lights the touch paper. Okay that and the ridiculous Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) with what’s still the most bonkers accent since Craig starred in Logan Lucky. There’s a lot in the patchwork pre title sequence. It’s a decadent world of sunshine and money. Sweeping scores to match the camera work and a cast of largely ignorant morons too detached to appreciate any of it. It’s all a mixed bag… but hang in. Anyway, what’s this about? A tech mogal called Miles (Edward Norton) has invited an inner circle of socialite friends to his Greek island for some lockdown fun, based around the premise of a murder mystery weekend. Everyone is dialled up to eleventy stupid, the whole thing is. Take this too seriously though and you’ll miss it. Just strap in and enjoy the ride. There’s more than enough talent here to keep things on track and it’s not long before the questions of the riddled narrative begin to be posed. Blanc stood out before and he does again here, but for a different reason. Despite his caricatured nature, here he’s actually closer to any identifiable reality than most of the cast. As he title suggests this has layers and making an utter mess of them is where this draws its strength. Craig is wonderful. Norton plays brilliantly off him and with Monáe stealthfully seething, waiting for her time to shine, it’s impossible not to get drawn in. That said, it’s a hour before this makes a gear change, so be prepared to patient. It finds the gas quickly from this point though. A time shift introduces Hugh Grant in an apron and so so much more. This second act with Craig and Monáe playing off one another is delicious and finally delivers some substance. The spade work early on is worth it. It’s not as clever or nuanced as the writers might hope, but this has more than enough pep in its step and its knowing tone makes even my cynical face smile. “Like everyone in the world, I assumed Miles Bron was a complicated genius” poses Blanc as he peels back the layers. We all assume the adults are in charge don’t we, that there are some more gifted than ourselves steering the ship. But the fun here is watching Blanc pull this apart in Sherlock fashion, whilst pointing out the ridiculousness. I’m sure you could rip this film to pieces if you really wanted to, but why would you. It’s delightful. A turbo charged romp. Sure there’s some missteps, but Craig is wonderful, Monáe is fantastic and Norton (god it’s good to see Norton again), is his usual whirlwind of understated bravado. There’s a lot to love here, some sweet moral judgement and a full blown ‘let’s really disrupt the system’ finale as Monáe proves just what a cinematic badass she can be. This does feel like an instalment. There’s clearly going to be more. It will struggle as a franchise I think, but Glass Onion gives it some hope and a fighting chance.