Glass Onion (2022) – Review
(3.5 / 4)
Rian Johnson hits two-for-two with Glass Onion, a second modern classic and a worthy sequel to Knives Out. Rian yet again succeeds as a storyteller where many others have failed; his blend of Golden Age detective fiction with the trappings of modern life is unique.
Glass Onion effortlessly balances comedy and drama in a multilayered plot that respects the intelligence of it’s audience. Once again, Daniel Craig stars as Benoit Blanc, an internationally renowned gentleman detective in the vein of Hercule Poirot.
During the real-world pandemic, Detective Blanc bemoans his boredom from lack of cases to solve. Breaking his monotonous funk, he receives an exclusive invitation to a murder mystery game, hosted by billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) on his private Mediterranean island.
Using the wealth grown from his company’s cryptocurrency assets, Bron regularly hosts his friends for extravagant annual reunions. Miles Bron is a entertaining and bitingly prescient satire of crypto-obsessed Silicon Valley CEOs like Elon Musk. Bron’s murder mystery party at an idyllic island paradise appeals immensely to Detective Blanc, whom quickly makes his way to Bron’s island posthaste.
However, as our detective arrives at the titular Glass Onion, he finds himself immersed in a far different mystery than his host had planned. Tensions run high between each guest and Bron, as Blanc races to peel away the layers of the Glass Onion before it shatters to pieces.
Fellow guests of Miles Bron include: Governor of Connecticut and Senate candidate Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn); Bron’s head scientist at Alpha, Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.); bigotry-prone supermodel and fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick); Twitch streaming Alex Jones pastiche named Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline); and finally Bron’s spurned ex-business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe).
These skilled actors collectively form a well-rounded ensemble and effortlessly disappear into their roles. They do not merely give strong individual performances; the interplay between the ensemble drives the film’s charm. Rian Johnson gives each character rational motives and hidden depths that continually challenge your understanding of events.
Akin to Knives Out, Rian Johnson revitalizes the whodunnit formula by reframing the mystery as “howdunnit” rather than who. Glass Onion rewards the audience for paying attention, but at the same time audiences will question everything they see on-screen. This deft balance keeps the audience on their toes and engaged throughout the film’s runtime.
Glass Onion’s cinematography and score beautifully complement the larger-than-life nature of the plot. Scenes are framed creatively, each tailored to properly establish characters relationship to their surroundings and to each other.
Despite increasingly chaotic action as the film progresses, the audience is always able to clearly perceive events on-screen. Notably, the many scenes filmed at nighttime or in darkness have proper lighting exposure and excellent colour grading.
Nathan Johnson’s score enhances the intended mood for each scene while blending seamlessly into the flow of dialogue. Dramatic tension comes to a boil and bursts as character themes swell; sweeping vistas are met with resounding orchestral movements. Overall, Johnson’s score engenders Glass Onion with a vibe both majestic and playful.
Once again, Rian Johnson masterfully blends humour and drama in a deeply engrossing mystery worthy of the great classics. While the plot may not woven quite as tightly as Knives Out, and the ending is less satisfying than the prior film, it’s indisputable that Glass Onion is a must-see for all.
Rian Johnson has made an excellent film that deserves the acclaim of critics and audiences alike. I leave this film incredibly excited to see where he and Daniel Craig will take Benoit Blanc next.