Whilst many movie fans would have wanted Rian Johnson blacklisted from ever straying onto a movie set ever again after the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, Netflix wasn’t as concerned with his talent, asking him to helm the murder mystery, Knives Out in 2019.
Such sparked something of a surprising resurgence for the classic genre, with the class and contemporary style of the 2019 movie leading to further imitators, Bodies Bodies Bodies, See How They Run and Death on the Nile in 2022 alone. But having signed a near-$400 million deal for two sequels to Knives Out with Netflix, Johnson’s return to the fold was inevitable, producing a whodunnit with ten times more aplomb than the original.
With no attachment to the first movie, aside from the re-appearance of Daniel Craig as the omniscient eccentric detective Benoit Blanc, Glass Onion takes on a brand new set of potential suspects who are each drawn together through their association with Edward Norton’s Miles Bron, a billionaire playboy philanthropist. Among those caught within his net are Claire (Kathryn Hahn), a promising governor, Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), a lead scientist in Bron’s enigmatic company, Twitch streamer Duke (Dave Bautista), Birdie (Kate Hudson), a ditsy fashion designer, and bitter ex-business partner Andi (Janelle Monáe).
With an ego as bloated as his grand private island, which comes fitted with robot bellboys and the Mona Lisa itself (rented from the Louvre during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown period), Bron invites each guest to frolic in the delights of his making and lick his backside to please his ego in the process. Clearly delighting in his own devilish deviousness, Johnson’s intricate setup allows for the drama to grow organically, like the stiff layer of dairy that hardens on exposed camembert.
Ignoring the veiled criticism of modern consumerism and the immorality of billionaires that provides an essential foundation from which the film can grow, Glass Onion is, above all, serious in its cabaret of splendour. Leading the audience through a waltz of joyously intricate storytelling, where deceitful characters slink, plot and seduce, Johnson weaves a delectable whodunnit tale that perfectly bridges the gap between the stiff Agatha Christie tales of old and the dynamism of modern cinema.
Delicately striking the balance between authentic drama and enjoyable farce, Johnson’s style rings of the same snappy spectacle of an Adam McKay movie, moving with the same pace, vigour and pop-culture pertinence. Such makes way for some neatly placed cameos that are enjoyable sideshows that refuse to distract from the main performance, led by the stellar performances of Craig, Monáe and Norton.
Whilst the entire ensemble cast impresses, this trio spurs the film onwards, with Craig fitting his now-iconic role as well as he slides into his character’s stylish cotton shirts, whilst Monáe swaggers with charm and Norton’s childlike charm makes a billionaire somewhat likeable.
Still, with all its bells, whistles, red herrings and grand reveals, Glass Onion is a proud addition to the pantheon of contemporary anti-rich movies, with Johnson sprinkling the perfect amount of politics into his whodunnit without spoiling the thrill of the chase. Staying as painfully relevant as it is rivetingly enjoyable, Glass Onion is a blockbuster for the ages that proves Johnson is a movie maestro at the top of his game.