Netflix Streaming: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) - Reviewed

All Photos Courtesy of Netflix

The term “glass onion” has many meanings.  It’s a type of British monocle, a style of light fixture, and most famously, a 1968 Beatles track poking fun at fans who read too much into song lyrics.  Perhaps most intriguing is the term as a metaphor, describing something that has the ability to be both multi-layered and transparent.  In Rian Johnson’s follow-up to the murder mystery Knives Out, the film is aptly named Glass Onion, acknowledging this metaphor while referencing a plot point — and it’s consistently multi-layered and only transparent when it chooses to be, making it a great mystery on par with its predecessor.

While the star-studded ensemble differs in this sequel, one constant remains:  the master private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig).  This time around, after receiving a mysterious invitation, he travels to a remote Greek island along with an eclectic group of wealthy “disruptors” who are old friends for a lavish annual getaway.  The mastermind behind the excursion is Miles Bron (Edward Norton), an Elon Musk-esque eccentric businessman with wild ideas and a surplus of money.  Miles describes the trip as an elaborate murder mystery party for his attendees, and it doesn’t disappoint — however, it’s not all fun and games as originally intended.  It turns out that there’s a lot of bad blood between these old friends, and Benoit’s on the case when the game becomes all too real and bodies start to actually drop dead.


Glass Onion has a great deal of charm, partially thanks to the stellar cast.  Every actor is magnetic in their respective roles, and it’s a joy to see Craig reprise his charismatic character with a Southern drawl that is flawlessly executed.  From Kate Hudson as the clueless, self-absorbed former model Birdie Jay to Dave Bautista as the gun-toting knucklehead internet celebrity Duke Cody, everyone effortlessly embraces their characters as though they were born to play them.  Similarly to the last film, most characters here have very few redeeming qualities, and that makes everyone a suspect, as well as just plain fun to watch on screen.


The humor goes a long way in the film to keep the audience hooked as well.  The cast understands comedy, and on top of the script having some genuinely hilarious dialogue and moments written into it, the actors play their characters’ quirks for laughs, but it never feels forced, cheap, or hackneyed.  Rian Johnson outdoes himself in this sequel with the well-timed comedic bits, and it makes all the murder and mayhem even more entertaining because they are done equally well.  The nervous laughs that break tension in the film are incredibly satisfying and show how Johnson has mastered the playfulness that this genre often has.


Glass Onion’s storyline doesn’t disappoint either.  Johnson is known for his plot twists and diversions of audience expectations, and we see that yet again here in one of his most satisfying examples of this.  Once the audience thinks it knows what the film is about, it throws everyone for a loop, and then does it over and over again until the climax.  It’s incredibly clever and never feels exhausting in the surprises it reveals.  There’s a stimulating energy about the narrative that rarely loses steam and has great pacing throughout.

The one misstep the film makes is that it sets it during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020.  The constant references to it at the beginning and pointed mask-wearing near the start already feel a bit dated, and they have an extended scene of all the characters receiving a special spray in their throats that will enable the attendees to not have to wear masks when they’re together on the island.  Had this somehow played into the plot, this would have made sense, but instead, it’s never really referenced again and instead feels like it’s putting an unnecessary timestamp on the film when it could have felt timeless and been all the better for it.


Glass Onion is a quick-witted murder mystery that is every bit as good as Knives Out, if not better.  The change of scenery in this one keeps the premise fresh, and it’s a pleasure to watch in countless regards.  Rian Johnson has a knack for carefully constructing the layers of his “glass onion,” and it’s fun watching them all peel away.  See it in theaters for one week only starting November 23rd, or watch it on Netflix starting December 23rd.    

—Andrea Riley