In GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY (released last November in theaters and then in late December on Netflix), Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, private investigator from the deep South. This time, he must solve the murder of a business entrepreneur closely linked to tech. billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Not surprisingly, Mr. Bron comes across as based on the narcissistic, actual billionaire Elon Musk. Parallel to the 2019 prequel KNIVES OUT (direct link to my review of that movie here: https://practicalpagan.blog/2019/12/04/movie-review-knives-out/), a wealthy, unsavory character is surrounded by a group of problematic individuals who depend on him to prosper. But, where the first movie centered on a family and its patriarch, this one focuses on a group of friends and the perceived catalyzer of their individual successes. One character aptly labels Bron and his sycophantic friends “shitheads,” who all have a reason to protect him from harm at all costs. As the movie unfolds, eventually in backstory flashbacks, we viewers soon see why he and his associates have earned this epithet.
GLASS ONION is aesthetically very different from its prequel, which had a comparatively earthier, dark-toned, more vintage look and feel to it. This sequel is slick and modern, the action and plot line greatly helped along by social media activity and references to it. Whereas the earlier movie’s main setting is an old house in New England, this one’s is a privately owned, sunny Greek island with a high tech. villa, its exterior shots largely CGI. Everything is pristine and clean-edged, which is refreshing and fun (like being on vacation at an upscale all-inclusive resort) yet sterile, like the souls of the host Bron and most of his guests. Very effective.
Where KNIVES OUT was steeped in 1960s-1980s TV and video references, GLASS ONION has none of these. Such a pivot is understandable, so that the sequel could be substantially different from the movie that introduces Benoit Blanc and his accompanying universe. In this latest installment, we viewers learn that he is gay via a brief and understated introduction of his male partner, played by Hugh Grant. Mr. Blanc gains a little more dimension, which I appreciated. It is challenging to keep a movie franchise compelling for a wide audience. The efforts in this latest outing are thought out.
While the ensemble cast is entertaining, I found the more modern-seeming, social media-dependent characters less distinguished and interesting than those in KNIVES OUT. But, I am a lover of vintage television and movie camp, which GLASS ONION purposefully avoids. This comes down to a matter of personal taste, for which I admittedly preferred the earlier movie over this recent one, much as it is very well done, filled with its own share of intrigue and bitingly funny moments.