So, how do you top Knives Out, the beloved and crafty star-studded murder mystery that turned out to be a big hit both critically and financially? Well, for Rian Johnson, the returning writer-director chose the blockbuster-style sequel route in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. And that is bigger and even flashier, especially in terms of its lavish production design seen in tech billionaire Miles Bron’s (Edward Norton) private island mansion — the Banksy-designed glass dock to the titular onion-shaped glass dome and a lush living room filled with glass sculptures and chic-looking furniture, just to name a few.
In this sequel, we learn that Miles invites his friends whom he dubbed “disruptors” to his aforementioned home for a murder-mystery party via intricately-designed wooden puzzle boxes. This includes Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick), scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), men’s rights influencer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his sexy assistant-girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) and Miles’ ex-business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe).
Then, there’s Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who happens to be one of the guests as well, even though he isn’t on Miles’ invitation list in the first place. Long story short, the party is supposed to be a harmless game but when one of the guests actually ends up dead, it’s up to Benoit Blanc — the world’s greatest detective — to solve the murder case.
The first hour is easily the best part of this sequel. It’s all fun and well-paced from the introduction of each new character to the solving-the-puzzle-box-moments, contemporary jokes & pop-culture references and even surprise Leonardo DiCaprio-pointing-meme cameo appearances. The cast is just as effective, notably Daniel Craig reprising his now-iconic charming Southern-accent role of Benoit Blanc and Edward Norton as the perfectly smug-looking Miles Bron. It’s nice to see Kate Hudson returns to her familiar comfort zone — the comedic role, that is — in her amusing supporting turn as Birdie Jay while Janelle Monáe particularly steals the show from the second half of the film onwards.
Johnson still retains the Agatha Christie-style whodunit mystery within the confines of, albeit a more showy mansion setting. It contains a few entertaining moments peppered with twists and misdirections, even though the subsequent reveal is — well — less satisfying and interesting this time around. Some of the humour, in the meantime, feels as if Johnson is trying too hard to be funny.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery may lack the sleight-of-hand touch that made the first film such a hit back in 2019. But I wouldn’t call the sequel as far as being an inferior one since it remains watchable enough. Netflix, the streaming giant that purchased the film rights for a whopping US$469 million, will have a third Knives Out movie coming our way — probably in a few years’ time — with Johnson still on board.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is currently streaming on Netflix.