The only problem with “Glass Onion” is that Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc doesn’t sport a completely different accent than he did in “Knives Out” without any explanation as to why. Just imagine if he showed up here with a thick Hungarian accent or “Pahked his cah near the Dunkin Donuts.” Oh, how that would have been absurdly divine! That is literally the sole acceptable criticism of writer/director Rian Johnson’s otherwise flawless sequel, which has officially launched a successful satirical franchise about the evils of capitalism.
Perhaps as karmic atonement for participating in the Bond films’ explicit celebration of colonialism and misogyny, Craig is now the figurehead for a series determined to out the rich as fickle bigoted morons who will engage in foul play before they would consider working hard. The connective tissue between “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion” isn’t just its central clue collector. It is “deadly fun and games at the expense of the new American elite.” It is 86ing the 1%, and it is 100 times more entertaining that you could imagine.
The pool of suspect-victims this time out gathers at the house of Miles Bron (Edward Norton), who is basically a Elon Musk-ish figure. When Johnson wrote the film a while back, he was perhaps thinking he exaggerated Musk’s nekkid emperor vibe. Then, you know…Twitter happened… Bron assembles an all-star assortment of assholes. This includes:
- Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), an influencer prone to casual racism
- Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), a Joe Rogan impression with more integrity
- Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), a more-corrupt-than-usual politician
- Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), a tech-and-science genius who humors Bron too often
- Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe), Bron’s scorned former partner
Blanc shows up to the private island for a murder mystery party thrown by Bron, who swears he didn’t invite the detective. Before long, there’s a shenanigans afoot and sleuthing to be sleuthed. The reveal is less shocking than it is wholly satisfying, as the entire affair holds together like it was glue-gunned by someone with pathological anxiety.
The fact that every performer is pitch-perfect is a nod to not only every individual performer (and the casting director) but to Johnson’s directorial mastery. The dude somehow gets left off of all the “best filmmakers working today” lists despite having not made one single misfire yet in his whole career. For Pete’s sake, he made a “Star Wars” movie so brilliant that it exposed incels like rats spewing out of a high-pressure sewer. This series though is where he’s at his uniquely gifted best.
How so? It combines his love of detail-laden, noir-adjacent plot-boiling with an absolutely essential point of view that has to do with disempowering real-world oligarchs by mockery. Yes, Craig’s Blanc remains a genuine delight and Monáe in particular demonstrates she is more exceptional as an actress than perhaps previously suspected. But “Glass Onion” mostly sings because it makes “big timers” look so small and stupid. Just as in “Knives Out,” the moral is that integrity is not inherited wealth or crass capitalism but honesty, compassion, and dignity. The result of this magnifying-glass perspective is not only guilt-free murder solving, it is silly entertainment with surprising substance. Please make 100 more.
Grade = A
Other Critical Voices to Consider
Siddhant Adlakha at Joy Sauce says “It’s also the rare piece of modern media where ceaseless pop culture references and recognizable cameos aren’t just a lazy affect. Rather, they’re a fitting background detail for these specific characters, who pride themselves on where they stand in the global celebrity hierarchy.”
Mattie Lucas at From the Front Row says “This is one franchise I would be happy to see continue indefinitely, if Johnson can continue to maintain this level of freshness; like a modern answer to ‘The Thin Man,’ with its sparkling dialogue, copious amounts of alcohol, and a new setting and mystery each time.”
Andres Cabrera at Geeks of Color says “This close examination of current culture is a difficult task. Yet, Rian Johnson does so ingeniously- balancing relevant trends and articles with a sense of self-awareness and clever takedowns.”