As a part of our protection of the 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival, Meg Shields opinions Rian Johnson’s homicide thriller sequel, ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’. Follow together with extra protection in our Toronto International Film Festival archives.
Southern-fried celeb sleuth Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has spent a lot of the pandemic languishing in his bathtub. With no twisty, murderous capers to crack, the downcast detective is at a loss for occupy his ever-whirring thoughts.
Then, a case falls into his lap. Or somewhat, a puzzle field: a garishly intricate invitation to an unique homicide mystery-themed island getaway hosted by none aside from the eccentric entrepreneur Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Along for the journey are Bron’s intimate gang of shit-disturbers: an ever-canceled fashionista (Kate Hudson) and her norm-core assistant (Jessica Henwick); an influencer who peddles in poisonous masculinity (Dave Bautista) and his complicit girlfriend, Whiskey (Madelyn Cline); a hypocritical leftist senator (Kathryn Hahn), and a scientist prepared to wave his morals for grant cash (Leslie Odom Jr.).
Dressed like the key fourth dad from Mama Mia!, Blanc seems like an outsider amongst these new cash jack-offs (although the presence of Bron’s steely former enterprise associate, Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monáe), actually raises eyebrows). But as tensions aptitude and we uncover that every of those folks would profit enormously from Bron’s demise, it turns into more and more clear that Blanc’s presence on the social gathering is not any accident.
In some ways, Glass Onion improves upon its predecessor. Where the primary movie’s unwieldy baseball group of A-Listers made preserving monitor of all of the motives and alibis extra complicated than difficult, it’s a aid that Glass Onion’s roster can comfortably slot in a single body. As with the decreased solid, the choice to primarily set the proceedings on an remoted personal island (flashbacks apart) does double responsibility of preserving issues targeted whereas invoking the style’s lengthy historical past of confining suspects and sleuths alike at sea. Is Glass Onion in the identical league as And Then There Were None or The Last of Shiela? Of course not. But I don’t suppose it’s attempting to be (extra on that later).
Inarguably, Glass Onion is Monáe’s movie for causes that I can’t say right here with out upsetting the comically massive shepherd’s criminal lurking simply off-stage. Bautista’s Duke — a testosterone supplement-slinging Twitch streamer — is one other standout. And for his half, Craig’s Foghorn Leghorn impression can be grating if writer-director Rian Johnson didn’t properly allocate him to the sidelines to lounge about in linen and guffaw once in a while. Everyone is clearly having a grand ole’ sunkissed time, and the vibe is catchy.
While Glass Onion boasts a contagiously playful construction, the movie does endure from the self-satisfied power that tinged the sequence’ first entry. As with the unique Knives Out, Johnson nonetheless hasn’t fairly discovered weave his unapologetic political theses right into a comedic material with out conjuring Jeb Bush’s “please clap” power. (There is actually a second early within the movie the place Craig pauses for the viewers to applaud after asserting a fortune cookie-like assertion that talking thoughtlessly is dangerous, really).
Glass Onion’s thematic grandstanding is a part of an even bigger situation of self-indulgence. There are gratuitous cameos on this movie that serve completely no narrative objective aside from to thrill individuals who get pleasure from seeing folks they acknowledge on-screen, nonetheless briefly. There are additionally numerous namedrops that (I suppose) communicate to the homicide suspects’ showy douchebaggery however finally come throughout as hole popular culture gestures that can age like bitter cream in a sauna. (Speaking of saunas, the pandemic jokes really feel particularly sweaty and an extension of the fleeting “oh hey, I know that!” thrill of celeb walk-ons).
During the Q&A that adopted my screening, Johnson talked about that, as a viewer, he prefers to method homicide mysteries as curler coasters somewhat than puzzles. And reality be advised, in the event you come at Glass Onion together with your cork board and crimson string on the prepared, you’re going to have a nasty time … specifically as a result of if what to search for, the thriller solves itself earlier than the primary physique drops. This movie is actively relying on you throwing your arms up within the air and having fun with the journey for what it’s somewhat than, , paying shut consideration.
So in the event you’re coming into Glass Onion with the hope of being genuinely challenged by an intricate thriller, it’s essential to bark up one other tree. This movie is completely not attempting to reinvent the wheel. And it even arguably even punishes those that have seen and loved sufficient homicide mysteries to be watchful for early act sleight of hand.
As a consequence, when the movie lastly arrives at its wildly self-satisfied conclusion, its smugness feels each unearned and a bit insulting. Without giving something away, the movie ends with the butt-covering transfer that, very like the “disruptors” in Blanc’s midst, all of this murderous plotting was really method dumber than anybody ought to give it credit score for. By lampshading the homicide plot’s basicness as being dumb on objective, Johnson is allowed to have it each methods. And that the movie admonishes us for having the gall to take these folks significantly feels each insulting and like a bizarre transfer to make in a post-Trump world.
As I mentioned, I loved Glass Onion greater than the unique Knives Out. And maybe I’ll get pleasure from Johnson’s third installment much more. In the top: Johnson is correct. The movie is amusing while you method it passively, like a rollercoaster. But you’ll be able to solely journey a rollercoaster so many instances. And I’m beginning to surprise when audiences will need one thing extra from their trendy homicide mysteries.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will play in choose theaters in November 2022 earlier than hitting Netflix on December twenty third. You can try the trailer here.