GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY – Review by Susan Granger

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It’s not exactly accurate that writer/director Rian Johnson’s follow-up Knives Out Mystery (2019) is called “-Glass Onion”- because the so-called ‘onion’ is actually a spectacular glass dome – with no layers and, essentially, hollow.

Having relinquished his James Bond persona, Daniel Craig reprises the dapper Southern detective, Benoit Blanc, in this overly intricate Agatha Christie-like murder mystery set on a luxurious private island that’s populated by a motley assortment of colorful guests.

“I need a great case,” Blanc muses.

That cues eccentric new-tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) to summon him, along with Bron’s disgruntled former business partner Cassandra ‘Andi’ Brand (Janelle Monae); Claire DeBella (Kathryn Hahn), a former soccer mom-now Governor of Connecticut; Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), a gun-toting, right-wing, YouTube men’s-rights celebrity, and his bikini-clad girl-friend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline); ditsy former fashionista-turned-entrepreneur Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick); and Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), an idealistic scientist.

They’re all known as ‘disruptors’ and they’ve all been bankrolled by manipulative Bron. Each receives a mysterious hardwood box stuffed with a series of puzzles indicating there’s a lavish weekend ’game’ afoot.

The three-day getaway is theoretical make-believe murder mystery with smug Bron as the supposed victim but his original plan gets complicated when there’s a potentially devastating energy disaster and some real-life homicides occur. Obviously, they’re all suspects. Whodunit?

Problem is: despite some intriguing cameos, none of the cast of characters is remotely likeable, so why should we care who murdered whom?

The film was shot in Budapest, Belgrade and on the Greek island of Spetses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Production designer Rick Heinriches makes Bron’s villa resemble a museum, filled with Banksys, Kandinskys and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. As an inside joke, one of Bron’s paintings is of Edward Norton’s head on Brad Pitt’s body from Fight Club (1999).

The title refers to The Beatles’ song from The White Album; the first Knives Out was titled after the Radiohead song from their Amnesiac album. And Rian Johnson hints that Benoit Blanc is gay in a flashback scene by showing his partner Phillip (Hugh Grant).

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a silly, showy, sybaritic 7, streaming on Netflix.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.