Detective Benoit Blanc is back on the scene. Case investigation: Glass Onion. The first Knives Out film was an utter delight from beginning to end between the charming cast of characters bouncing wonderfully off each other and Rian Johnson’s elaborately multi-faceted style and method of storytelling complimenting each other.
I hereby find Glass Onion……guilty for being a case of stubbornly brilliant simplicity, but also for ONCE AGAIN, being devilishly star studded and a lot of fun despite the litany of….donut holes.
Rian Johnson’s impressive credentials only gets bigger here; inspired by the 1973 film The Last of Sheila, it’s not hard to see the connection between both this and that from a presentational standpoint. But this is where he once again disrupts mystery conventions and peels away at certain layers when it comes to expectations and ingenuity. He’s somehow excellent at understanding the novelty of if not when and how to direct misdirection, then to construct each scene like a Jenga tower even if the odds are stacked against him.
Every piece of dialogue has weight and meaning to it; either to establish characters or set up later scenes or both. There’s only just a tad more cutting satire that bleeds out from these characters the previously and the dialogue is full of decontextualized exchanges.
There is a lot to gush about between impeccably shimmering cinematography, use of nonlinear editing, production design that helps depict the allure of both supreme wealth and vulnerability through lavish decor, meaningful props and glorious costume designs, sturdy pacing that holds the admittedly questionable runtime together, sharp careful sound design and uses of lighting and the cast, while not as extravagant as the previous film, is still devilishly star-studded to the core with a deliciously extravagant Daniel Craig quickly adjusting to being in Blanc’s skin and a surprise breakout performance in which, this time that honor goes to Janelle Monae.
Oh and did I mention this is somehow more absurd and sillier than its predecessor? Not particularly in a way that makes you laugh (although there are some jokes that work) but one that sort of complicates the films own structure albeit with copious wit and style.
The name of the game for this story is taking jabs at the nouveau-rich, focusing more on the comical aspects of these entitled characters and how they view society. Similar to the first film, it hinges on satire a little bit and revels in social commentary; while mainly a murder mystery, it also seems to serve as a meditation on America's most rich and powerful. Money, the cost of wealth, the price of keeping it and what people will do when their comfort is challenged does round out its plethora of themes even if they aren’t anything special to drone on about but I feel the film deftly handled those themes the best they can, rounding it out with a balanced display of comedy, finesse and urgency when it calls for it thanks to a delicate clockwork-like script.
Unfortunately, there have been plenty of films this year that have satirized and criticized fine dining, influencer culture, classism and phony relationships simultaneously and done it better so it was always going to falter in the eyes of whoever watches it…..and this story somehow manages to toy with those strings further not only by playing with the art of hiding in plain sight but also by, I can’t believe I’m saying this, couching stupidity behind intelligence….. although not to the heights I expected. As if the allegorical title wasn’t already a red flag.
To my eternal shame, this mystery is riddled with quite a few holes.
Yes, the presentation and backdrop of the mystery can seem very commercialized, yes, it’s no surprise that the supposed suspects are no angels and yes, the final act is executed in a very over-the-top and silly manner that barely avoids bordering on parody. With a bigger budget comes many other challenges and unfortunately the movie stumbles when it tries to be too extravagant and a spectacle for the viewers: a common pitfall for most sequels and a sad departure from the more subtle and simplistic approach of the first film.
And then there’s the musical score itself: I don’t know guys. It’s entertaining for the most part and it serves its purpose well but I could hardly remember a single track.
I think the best way to categorize Glass Onion is this: even from the outside looking in, it gets stupid in a lot of areas but I’m having too much fun with it that I don’t care. Then again, for a movie that proudly boasts such a imperfect metaphor on how dumb the implications of our society and culture have become, I can accept this donuts hole in a donuts hole being….just a donut.