Starring Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monae, Katherine Hahn, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr
Between Benoit Blanc and Hercule Poirot, the whodunnit genre has an influx of sequels. Here’s the thing, from True Crime thrillers to murder mysteries, less has almost always proved to be more. Earlier this year, Kenneth Branagh’s forgettable “Death on the Nile” was the epitome of an overproduced film. It has a bloated cast and an overreliance on special effects. Rain Johnson’s sequel for Netflix follows up the highly successful “Knives Out,” which earned an Oscar nomination for his creative writing. The sequel curse is making everything extra, and Netflix gave Johnson Carte Blanc. “Glass Onion” is too reliant on special effects. “Knives Out” had better characters. “Glass Onion” shares little with its predecessor aside from Blanc. Also, Johnson’s creativity is best when nurtured within defined limits.
Five lifelong friends receive invitations to their genius billionaire buddy’s yearly get-together. Each is sent an elaborate puzzle box with clues about what to expect, including a murder mystery. When the famous Benoit Blanc (Craig) arrives with the guests in Greece, all wonder if he is part of the festivities laid out by their eccentric host Miles Bron (Norton). The guest no one expected to show up, Andi Brand (Monae), ex-partner of Bron, alleges he stole the entire idea for their company, making everyone in this friend circle so rich. With two unexpected guests in what was supposed to be a fun weekend, events turn ominous, especially when one of the guests ends up dead.
As Daniel Craig walks onto the glass onion property, designed by Miles Bron, it’s as if he’s stepped on the set of another Bond villain compound.
Like the characters of “Knives Out,” everyone is written to be hilariously unlikeable. As Daniel Craig walks onto the glass onion property, designed by Miles Bron, it’s as if he’s stepped on the set of another Bond villain compound. The audience is safely on Blanc’s side, as he acts a fool while carefully studying each guest. The script, or the dialogue, is better than what plays out on screen. Both Hudson and Bautista play stereotypes not only of themselves but repurposed characters they have played in other films. With her sarcastic humor, Hahn and Odom Jr. fade into the background as less showy characters. The gem here is undoubtedly Monae like she did in “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures,” who steals the show.
Sure, Johnson inserts his brilliance and there, but the sequel suffers greatly from excess and a lack of restraint. Johnson pens the script in the current era of face coverings, the pandemic, and the lockdown, in which a hilarious but brief cameo rids the characters of their masks. It’s one of the film’s random but most well-executed moments. This murder mystery plot lacks the sweater surprise of the previous film. It’s supposed to be the journey along the way that’s so enjoyable, regardless of the conclusion, but “Glass Onion” sometimes feels lazy and less crafted. Too many ideas bounced all over the place when what made the original work so well was the intricacies and the confinement that old fashion houses provided.
“Glass Onion” is another momentarily entertaining sequel that suffers from unrestrained excess.