Glass Onion (A Knives Out Mystery) (2022)
Glass Onion (A Knives Out Mystery) (2022)

Genre: Crime Comedy and Mystery Running Time: 2 hrs. 20 min.

Release Date: December 23rd, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Rian Johnson Actors: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Hugh Grant

 


 

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n May 13th, 2020, Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn) speaks about her campaign, which is in bed with billionaire philanthropist Miles Bron (Edward Norton), whose top scientist Dr. Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) contends with the magnate’s continual nonsensical whims. And air-headed perpetual partier and former fashion icon Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), accompanied by assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick), along with macho-man Twitch-streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his shapely girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), complete a set of people who receive a large puzzle box gift from Bron, which needs intricate solving in order to reveal an invitation to a private island. The final recipient, Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Janelle Monae), a former partner cut out of the loop in a disgraceful manner, is something of a surprise, especially to the others.

“What an extraordinary gathering.” It’s the eighth annual exotic getaway, and all of the celebrity-level guests are old friends, save for the world’s greatest detective (according to Google), Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who mysteriously joins the Grecian voyage for the first time to participate in solving the murder of Miles himself – something of a rich-person, immersive mystery game. And the 3-day weekend experience, set in a commune called the Glass Onion on a private island, is certain to boast cutting-edge technology and all sorts of avant-garde decorations and designs. “The last thing I need is a vacation. I need a great case.”

Once all of the players (disruptors, as they’re considered) are established, the next thing to hint at is motives. And everyone is suspicious. But they’re each given so many details and so much backstory to suggest that they all despise Bron and could believably do away with the corrupt tech mogul; and not a one of them is sympathetic or engaging. Though an inevitable murder mystery will eventually get underway, it’s so slow and plodding to arrive that it threatens to lose interest before it even starts. It actually takes an hour for the first surprise to rear its head.

“Is something supposed to happen?” Quick flashbacks crop up not to remind audiences of minuscule notes that they couldn’t possibly have noticed the first time around, but to show how Benoit deduced various revelations like some superhuman sleuth. It’s terribly unrealistic, even if realism isn’t a concern for writer/director Rian Johnson. And then there are lengthier flashbacks (and repeated shots from varying perspectives) that expose connections and relationships only known to select characters, effectively keeping audiences at a distance – not unlike Guy Ritchie’s theatrical takes on Sherlock Holmes.

“It all makes perfect sense.” Problematically, when the story withholds so much information to begin with, it causes a certain distrust toward later evidence; and, worse than that, a certain apathy. With its circuitous, tricky, disordered plotting, like the titular onion, peeling back layer after layer (in a reverse order of sorts) to chronicle various associations and machinations, the film struggles to maintain interest. If too much is cryptic and unfamiliar, viewers will feel stuck outside of the goings-on, which is exactly how to keep them indifferent and disinterested and dissatisfied. At least there’s a bit of humor here and there, but it’s not nearly enough to add gravity to this setup and these people. There are also countless twists and turns, but they’re comparably meaningless when nothing is as it seems; misdirection abounds. Ultimately, what could have been a clever mystery instead feels idiotic, since anything can be redefined and reworked at any moment (like deaths in superhero movies), with ludicrous coincidences manufactured for the sake of last-minute shocks. “It’s so dumb, it’s brilliant.”

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10