Combustible Celluloid Review - Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022), Rian Johnson, Rian Johnson, Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Ethan Hawke, Dallas Roberts, Jackie Hoffman, Natasha Lyonne, Hugh Grant, Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Serena Williams
Combustible Celluloid
 
With: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Ethan Hawke, Dallas Roberts, Jackie Hoffman, Natasha Lyonne, Hugh Grant, Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Serena Williams
Written by: Rian Johnson
Directed by: Rian Johnson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong language, some violence, sexual material and drug content
Running Time: 139
Date: 11/23/2022
IMDB

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mass A-Peel

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Rian Johnson's sequel to Knives Out (2019), which was produced for Netflix and set for a Christmas release, but which was good enough to receive a theatrical release a month earlier, establishes him as perhaps the premier screenwriter of his time (Tarantino notwithstanding). Johnson's plotting is impeccable, creating mystery after mystery with clever deceptions, clues dropped so quickly you won't see them, and ultimately satisfying denouncements. His dialogue is just as playful, not only sprinkled with spiffy word choices, but also in tune with the glorious rhythms of speech.

And yet, as a director, he's no slouch either. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is decked out with astonishing production design, images that resonate and double back upon one another, tying into each other, and everything clicking together. He shows graceful, fluid camera moves that subtly reveal. And even so, he's not just a technician. He is just as good with his cast, and, even better, prefers ensemble casts. Everyone gets a chance to shine. (My colleague Richard von Busack called him the most democratic director since Jonathan Demme.)

I don't want to say very much about the plot of Glass Onion, but it takes place during the pandemic, and a bored detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is very happy to be invited to a "murder party," thrown by billionaire genius Miles Bron (Edward Norton), on his private island. Even though Blanc is a newcomer, all of Miles's old friends are invited: politician Claire (Kathryn Hahn), who is currently running for the Senate, scientist Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), former model and current fashion maven Birdie (Kate Hudson), and gun-toting YouTuber Duke (Dave Bautista).

Also on hand are Birdie's assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) and Duke's girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), who seems to have a thing for Miles. Lastly, we have Andi (Janelle Monáe), who had a violent falling-out with Miles and who has turned up anyway for reasons of her own. An assistant (Ethan Hawke) turns up to give them all some kind of throat spray that protects them from COVID, no explanations necessary. ("You're good.") You may feel like you miss the stellar cast from the original film, but within minutes you'll love this new cast just as much.

The idea of the game is that Miles will be "killed," and the guests must figure out who did it. But of course there's a real murder, and somebody did do it, and it's weirdly lucky that Blanc is on hand. Watching Glass Onion unfold is a pure pleasure, and every piece is exactly where it should be, although a post-denouncement sequence of destruction may go on a bit too long. Overall, the production may not seem very important or weighty, but so much work and imagination has gone into it, that it has the touch of an old-time Hollywood entertainment. It already feels like a classic.

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