tue 07/02/2023

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review - grand, class-conscious escapism | reviews, news & interviews

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review - grand, class-conscious escapism

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review - grand, class-conscious escapism

Daniel Craig’s detective Benoit Blanc returns for more fizzing, elite-skewering fun

Murder he wrote: Daniel Craig as Benoit BlancCourtesy of Netflix (c) 2022

Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sequel is an even more brightly entertaining puzzle picture, revelling in the old-fashioned glamour of enviably sunny climes and another rogues’ gallery of piquantly deployed film stars. Self-styled world’s greatest detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is again on hand to pick up the inevitably murderous pieces.

Filmed during lockdown, Glass Onion is a delayed pick-me-up for those restrictions, packed with cinematic endorphins. Blanc is in a rut in this caseless, Covid world, till he’s invited to the private Greek island of tech mogul Miles Bron (Edward Norton) for a murder mystery weekend, along with Miles’ variously beholden old friends: men’s rights Youtuber Duke (Dave Bautista), his faux-bimbo assistant Whiskey (Madelyn Cline, pictured below with Bautista), corrupt Democrat governor Claire (Kathryn Hahn), uptight scientist Lionel (Leslie Odon Jr.) and ex-model and social media hand grenade Brandy (Kate Hudson, relishing her insistent idiocy). Janelle Monae also sweeps into view as Miles’ spurned business partner Andi, one more loose cannon in a weekend where the mystery, and murder, keeps shifting.

Dave Bautista and Madelyn Whiskey in Glass Onion: A Knives Out MysteryLike The Social Network, there’s a Nineties origin story, back when these were real pals, boozy losers dreaming big at the now long closed Glass Onion bar. It’s a sentimental artefact from those fond, misty days which unites and tears apart this band of backstabbing brothers and sisters.

Craig continues his unsuspected talent for comedy, with Blanc’s ripe southern accent and dexterous, breezy buffoonery. Knives Out’s implication that he was more bumptious than brilliant is dropped, his eccentricity now a sly diversion, like Marple or Columbo. Peter Falk’s underestimated working-class detective’s dismantling of LA’s smug elite remains a crucial model, as Johnson repurposes his beloved Agatha Christie’s middle-class parlour games for trenchantly satirical class warfare.

Edward Norton in Glass Onion: A Knives Out MysteryWhere Knives Out skewered entitled one-percenters aiming to inherit the wealth of Christopher Plummer’s patriarch, online “disruptors” get it this time. We meet Miles idly strumming The Beatles’ “Blackbird” on the guitar on which McCartney composed it, an instrument sent carelessly crashing stage-left - just another bauble for the man who has everything, including the borrowed Mona Lisa. Norton, pictured above, is well-cast as a man barely hiding his sense of superiority here at the top of the world, a capricious, geek Greek god whose every idiot whim is indulged. The actor’s boyishness has slightly gone to seed, his caustic edge of intelligence sharpened by Miles’ infinite power but dulled by his dimness. Elon Musk’s whole class’s mad foibles are in Johnson’s sights.

Johnson’s fascination with narrative clockwork led to moving, time-warped convolutions in his science-fiction thriller Looper (2012), and Luke Skywalker’s bonkers farewell in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). In the Knives Out films, he breaks broad characters on that clockwork’s wheel. When Glass Onion’s first hour is rerun from an alternate perspective, it deliciously twists on a puzzling, central performance. The Beatles’ “Glass Onion” – in which Lennon planted fake clues to Fabs myth – adds one more leaf of intrigue.

For all its barbed points, Glass Onion is one long guilt-free holiday in the sun. With double Knives Out’s budget, it has all the lavish pleasures and communal affect you’d want at the cinema, where its frustratingly limited week’s run is well worth catching before its Netflix debut. An especially far-fetched climax apart, the fizzing pleasure barely flags.

Edward Norton is well-cast as a man barely hiding his sense of superiority, a capricious, geek Greek god

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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