Glass Onion Review: Whodunnit? Rian Johnson's done it again.

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulDec 28, 2022 | 08:00

Glass Onion Review: Whodunnit? Rian Johnson's done it again.

In Glass Onion, Rian Johnson carries forward the Knives Out legacy of revitalising the spirit of this genre, keeping it fresh and more original than ever before.

While Knives Out was Johnson’s attempt to address the malicious Internet trolls out for blood after his highly divisive exploits in the Star Wars franchise, its exceptionally thought out follow-up, Glass Onion, dazzles as a fresh take on a hackneyed narrative trope.


This time round, the latest murder mystery is set during the pandemic years and follows the billionaire co-founder of the tech company Alpha, Miles Bron (Edward Norton) - an exasperating blowhard who most certainly draws inspiration from a certain other exasperating blowhard billionaire all too familiar to us. Hint: Elongated Muskrat. 

Bron decides to host a murder mystery weekend at his mansion - the Glass Onion - on his private island in Greece. The sprawling estate boasts impressive production design, capturing the allure of tasteless bougie plush in the likeness of HBO’s The White Lotus.

A still from the Glass Onion

As a matter of fact, the film also features an ensemble that rivals the HBO anthology series in encapsulating the very same grandiosity. The vibrant cast of characters includes Alpha head scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr), Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick), men's rights streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), and fellow co-founder and ousted Alpha CEO Cassandra "Andi" Brand (Janelle Monae). 

The exquisite cast of Glass Onion in a still from the film

The film swanks about its luscious casting, with each performance desperate to outdo the other as if in character, however much like its predecessor, has resulted in no particular standouts overall. However, that’s where Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc makes his dashing entrance. 

Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion

The “last of the gentleman detectives” Benoit Blanc marks Craig’s second time flaunting a Southern drawl so thick and caricatured, it almost makes you forget of a certain British spy. At the risk of overdoing his charm, the old-fashioned problem-solver outdoes his exaggerated politeness making him one of the most instantly likeable film characters of the year. 

Janelle Monaei as Helen/Andi Brand in Glass Onion

Blanc is aided in this island mystery by Helen Brand in the guise of her late sister Andi Brand, sworn to seek the truth surrounding her sister’s suspicious suicide. Monae brings a complexity to the two characters she embodies that seems to have been lost on her predecessor Ana De Armas, thus making for a far more compelling central character.

The screenplay, despite priding itself on breaking free from the shackles of overdone whodunnit cliches, does so by embracing not one, but as many as can be. From the scorned lover trope, to dramatic flashback sequences to monologues upon monologues of expository murder-solving - the story incorporates the spirit of these age-old tropes, reinventing them along the way to capture the attention of its younger, slightly more impatient generation of audiences. 

A still from the film

Alluding to its title, Glass Onion takes the “hidden in plain sight” convention to frustratingly new heights, a series of misleads, misdirects and intentionally unreliable narrative techniques that keep us inescapably guessing till the very end. However, when the figurative onion has all its layers peeled back to reveal the truth at its core, Craig’s Blanc thoroughly encapsulates all our overbearing sentiments with a resounding, 

Set to Johnson-sibling and frequent Rian Johnson collaborator, Nathan Johnson’s mischievous harpsichord-heavy original score, amplifying the corny murder mystery aesthetic; some gorgeous light and camera work from cinematographer Steve Yedlin that emulated the shadowplay of 50’s film-noir; and over-the-top editing from Bob Duscay - Glass Onion makes for a tantalising cinematic experience. 

A still from the film

The film’s ‘eat the rich’ sensibility comes to an immensely satisfying destructive end that concludes with a certain overrated symbol of opulence going up in flames, with its incinerator striking an iconic climactic pose to close the case.

Johnson gives us a tribute to a bygone era of detective stories and murder mysteries that someway along the way, lost their charm, and with it their significance and quality. Glass Onion is witty, whimsical and nefarious; a double-edged blade that both satirises and commemorates the genre to its fullest, very well outdoing its preceding mystery. 

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is streaming on Netflix.

Last updated: December 28, 2022 | 08:00
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