As a part of our protection of the forty seventh annual Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant, Meg Shields evaluations Rian Johnson’s homicide thriller sequel, ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Thriller’. Comply with together with extra protection in our Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant archives.
Southern-fried celeb sleuth Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has spent a lot of the pandemic languishing in his bathtub. With no twisty, murderous capers to crack, the downcast detective is at a loss for the best way to occupy his ever-whirring thoughts.
Then, a case falls into his lap. Or slightly, a puzzle field: a garishly intricate invitation to an unique homicide mystery-themed island getaway hosted by none aside from the eccentric entrepreneur Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Alongside for the journey are Bron’s intimate gang of shit-disturbers: an ever-canceled fashionista (Kate Hudson) and her norm-core assistant (Jessica Henwick); an influencer who peddles in poisonous masculinity (Dave Bautista) and his complicit girlfriend, Whiskey (Madelyn Cline); a hypocritical leftist senator (Kathryn Hahn), and a scientist keen to wave his morals for grant cash (Leslie Odom Jr.).
Dressed like the key fourth dad from Mama Mia!, Blanc appears like an outsider amongst these new cash jack-offs (although the presence of Bron’s steely former enterprise companion, Cassandra Model (Janelle Monáe), definitely raises eyebrows). However as tensions aptitude and we uncover that every of those individuals would profit vastly from Bron’s demise, it turns into more and more clear that Blanc’s presence on the celebration isn’t any accident.
In some ways, Glass Onion improves upon its predecessor. The place the primary movie’s unwieldy baseball crew of A-Listers made holding observe of all of the motives and alibis extra complicated than difficult, it’s a aid that Glass Onion’s roster can comfortably slot in a single body. As with the diminished solid, the choice to primarily set the proceedings on an remoted personal island (flashbacks apart) does double responsibility of holding issues targeted whereas invoking the style’s lengthy historical past of confining suspects and sleuths alike at sea. Is Glass Onion in the identical league as And Then There Have been None or The Final of Shiela? In fact not. However I don’t suppose it’s attempting to be (extra on that later).
Inarguably, Glass Onion is Monáe’s movie for causes that I can’t say right here with out upsetting the comically massive shepherd’s criminal lurking simply off-stage. Bautista’s Duke — a testosterone supplement-slinging Twitch streamer — is one other standout. And for his half, Craig’s Foghorn Leghorn impression can be grating if writer-director Rian Johnson didn’t properly allocate him to the sidelines to lounge about in linen and guffaw now and again. Everyone seems to be clearly having a grand ole’ sunkissed time, and the vibe is catchy.
Whereas Glass Onion boasts a contagiously playful construction, the movie does endure from the self-satisfied vitality that tinged the collection’ first entry. As with the unique Knives Out, Johnson nonetheless hasn’t fairly discovered the best way to weave his unapologetic political theses right into a comedic material with out conjuring Jeb Bush’s “please clap” vitality. (There’s actually a second early within the movie the place Craig pauses for the viewers to applaud after asserting a fortune cookie-like assertion that talking thoughtlessly is dangerous, truly).
Glass Onion’s thematic grandstanding is a part of a much bigger concern of self-indulgence. There are gratuitous cameos on this movie that serve completely no narrative goal aside from to thrill individuals who take pleasure in seeing individuals they acknowledge on-screen, nonetheless briefly. There are additionally quite a few namedrops that (I suppose) communicate to the homicide suspects’ showy douchebaggery however finally come throughout as hole popular culture gestures that may age like bitter cream in a sauna. (Talking of saunas, the pandemic jokes really feel particularly sweaty and an extension of the fleeting “oh hey, I do know that!” thrill of celeb walk-ons).
Throughout the Q&A that adopted my screening, Johnson talked about that, as a viewer, he prefers to method homicide mysteries as curler coasters slightly than puzzles. And fact be instructed, should you come at Glass Onion together with your cork board and purple string on the prepared, you’re going to have a foul time … particularly as a result of if you already know what to search for, the thriller solves itself earlier than the primary physique drops. This movie is actively relying on you throwing your fingers up within the air and having fun with the journey for what it’s slightly than, you already know, paying shut consideration.
So should you’re coming into Glass Onion with the hope of being genuinely challenged by an intricate thriller, you’ll want to bark up one other tree. This movie is completely not attempting to reinvent the wheel. And it even arguably even punishes those that have seen and loved sufficient homicide mysteries to be watchful for early act sleight of hand.
Consequently, when the movie lastly arrives at its wildly self-satisfied conclusion, its smugness feels each unearned and a bit insulting. With out giving something away, the movie ends with the butt-covering transfer that, very like the “disruptors” in Blanc’s midst, all of this murderous plotting was truly approach dumber than anybody ought to give it credit score for. By lampshading the homicide plot’s basicness as being dumb on goal, Johnson is allowed to have it each methods. And that the movie admonishes us for having the gall to take these individuals significantly feels each insulting and like a bizarre transfer to make in a post-Trump world.
As I mentioned, I loved Glass Onion greater than the unique Knives Out. And maybe I’ll take pleasure in Johnson’s third installment much more. In the long run: Johnson is correct. The movie is amusing once you method it passively, like a rollercoaster. However you’ll be able to solely journey a rollercoaster so many instances. And I’m beginning to surprise when audiences will need one thing extra from their trendy homicide mysteries.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Thriller will play in choose theaters in November 2022 earlier than hitting Netflix on December twenty third. You’ll be able to take a look at the trailer right here.