The “Knives Out” sequel delivers on all fronts with a stellar cast and compelling plot.
The long-awaited sequel to 2019’s “Knives Out” is finally here. Glass Onion proved to be a rare sequel that surpasses the original. The film opened on Nov. 3 globally, making it the first Netflix film to debut in theater chains.
Glass Onion is an exciting sequel that only returns one character from its predecessor — Daniel Craig as the world’s best detective, Benoit Blanc. This cast is arguably better than the first film, with stellar performances by Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe and Kathryn Hahn.
Filmed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the film is sprinkled with pandemic references and jokes about masks, quarantine and Zoom calls, featuring cameos from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury.
From the start, Glass Onion already feels like a distinct entity entirely separate from Knives Out. Craig’s charming southern accent as Blanc was the only familiar feeling from the original. Everything from the plot, characters and even shot selection feels like an upgrade.
The plot follows a murder mystery party thrown by eccentric billionaire Miles Bron, played by Edward Norton, on his private island to reunite former friends and business partners. Blanc also receives an invitation to solve the fake murder mystery set up by Bron. However, when one of the guests dies, Blanc is tasked with solving the crime.
One of the things this movie does so well is creating a diverse mix of characters that feel fleshed out. Among them are political candidates, scientists, former actresses and internet sensations. Every character has a unique story and set of motivations that director Rian Johnson lets slowly unfold throughout the film.
I was most impressed by Janelle Monáe as Andi. I had never seen the R&B singer act before Glass Onion and was pleasantly surprised by the depth she added to the character. Craig obviously shined as the star, but Edward Norton also delivered a strong case for best supporting actor in this film. As someone who loved his performance in the 1998 film “Rounders,” it was refreshing to see Norton step outside of his traditional role.
While I enjoyed the first film, Glass Onion’s script is more thorough in creating a mystery with multiple motivations that leave each character a suspect until the very end. As I tried to piece together the mystery while sitting in the theater, I changed my main suspect multiple times before the secret was out and my hypothesis was destroyed.
The set and shot selection of the film were also stellar. The majority of the film takes place in Bron’s luxurious mansion on his private island in Greece. Complete with oceanside scenery, ornate statues and a literal giant glass onion atop the mansion, every shot felt carefully planned and meaningful. The wardrobe design in the film also provided a fun, colorful experience that highlighted the differences in each character.
Although some, including myself, questioned why the film wasn’t simply called “Knives Out Two,” director Rian Johnson carefully selected the title just as he had carefully developed the script. Glass Onion is a reference to the 1968 Beatles song of the same name. Johnson explained,“I’m always fishing for something fun that Blanc can grab onto as an overwrought metaphor that he can beat to death.” During the film, Blanc himself references the irony of a glass onion as something that seems to have layers, yet the center of it remains obvious and visible.
One of the most exciting things about Glass Onion is that it lends itself to more installments of the franchise. Netflix bought the rights to the film and another sequel for $450 million dollars in 2021. By following the current formula of placing Benoit Blanc in new mysteries surrounded by a compelling cast, it seems Glass Onion could be one of many successful films in the franchise.
Glass Onion was only playing in select theaters from Nov. 23-29 before releasing on Netflix on Dec. 23. As someone who was lucky enough to see it in theaters, I can’t imagine waiting another month to experience this masterpiece. When it’s finally available on Netflix, it’s definitely worth a watch.