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"Glass Onion" Review

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Glass Onion

Edward Norton, left, Madelyn Cline and Daniel Craig in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” (John Wilson/Netflix/TNS)

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mistery” is complex, ersatz, sincere, disingenuous, honest and deceiving.  

The sequel to “Knives Out” was released in September during the Toronto International Film Festival and is now streaming on Netflix. The new movie is a standalone story, separate from its predecessor, but still expands on the themes of the original in interesting ways. While “Glass Onion” may have a few small flaws, peeling back the layers of this film is a fantastic and rewarding experience. 

The story of “Glass Onion” follows Daniel Craig’s returning character Detective Benoit Blanc as he investigates a murder mystery on an eccentric millionaire’s private island. The setting is tropical, luxurious and a far cry from the warmer and more contained set pieces of the original. This time around the story feels looser, crazier and sillier. The movie is hilarious as the social satire is turned up to 100. As the film goes on, it turns itself on its head, drops the farce  and takes a deeper and more nuanced look at the themes it sets up. The movie simply shines the most in its boldness.

I  appreciate  Rian Johnson’s (the director) ability to cast underdog characters you can easily root for. Janelle Monae puts on  a complex and nuanced performance as her character Helen Brand. Craig’s detective persona is classic, being both a satire and a love letter to those quirky detective characters we all know and love. 

The themes and message in the narrative are fantastic. With minimal spoilers, the film sharply critiques the ignorance that comes from the upper-class characters. “Glass Onion” perspective on these characters and the harsh truths they must fake are the most accurate depictions of the “insidious rich” type that I’ve seen. Taking such a politically relevant perspective was a risky gambit, but it paid off in spades.

There are a few flaws inside this onion. In some cases, the lack of subtlety in its political satire feels a little over the top when contrasted to the first movie’s subdued tone, but it’s funny enough to forgive. The foreshadowing was obvious. I managed to call out a few of the twists in the opening acts. My biggest bone to pick lies within the climax, it feels just a little too over the top and showy for me to really buy, especially when compared to the rest of the franchise. However, I can understand why the events played out the way they did. It adds to the story and overall themes even if it’s a bit much. 

In summary, “Glass Onion” is a layered film with a comedic heart of gold, a compelling, thematic narrative and a brilliant cast of characters anyone could fall in love with. I don’t know if I love it just as much as the original, but it stands on its own as a fantastic successor. Whatever Johnson does next, I’ll be the first person in the theater cheering him on, despite what “Star Wars” fans may say.