“Glass Onion”: Johnson’s whodunit did it again

Laura Malagrino, Arcade Editor

Cole Farrah

Though it seems there are only so many ways to write a murder-mystery story that aren’t annoyingly predictable, writer and director Rian Johnson has proven that it can be done.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” made an astonishing debut in theaters on Nov. 23, raking in $300 million worldwide. The film is a sequel to “Knives Out,” which was released in 2019. 

Following the success of “Knives Out,” I was skeptical that “Glass Onion” would be able to live up to the exquisitely thorough whodunit storyline and all-star cast of its predecessor. But “Glass Onion” pulled through with yet another stacked cast, captivating mystery and satirical takes.

Considering my appreciation for “Knives Out,” I had a lot of expectations for “Glass Onion.” The murder-mystery aspect of “Glass Onion” gradually faded into the story much later than in “Knives Out,” but I was not displeased. Though the setting, characters and plot were all entirely different, there was still an underlying level of uniformity throughout the two films. 

I will admit, the first 15 minutes of the film worried me. It takes place in May 2020, when COVID-19 guidelines were much more restrictive. Immediately, there is an overwhelming amount of social commentary on the disregard for safety in the midst of a pandemic, the rise of far-right “alpha males” on streaming platforms and cancel culture.

Thankfully, the groan-inducing political satire faded out by the time the mystery began. Once Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, stepped into the picture, my mind felt at ease. 

The element of mystery was not as involved as in “Knives Out,” although it was still worthwhile. Comparing the two films seems almost unfair as they revolve around two strikingly different figures: the accomplished — yet humble — mystery author Harlan Thrombey in the first film and airhead billionaire Miles Bron in the second. 

“Knives Out” holds a special place in my heart. Chris Evans’s deliciously well-fitting knit sweaters will always be dear to me. Jamie Lee Curtis, as an individual, is someone who I can always count on to not only elevate the viewing experience but also execute her characters with a certain unparalleled panache. 

Though the two do not return in the sequel, I was, in a way, grateful for the new loves I  found. Edward Norton is so eloquent in his depiction of the billionaire douchebag that I came to truly despise him. This may seem like a negative to most viewers, but I am a hater to my core. Janelle Monae, on the other hand, was absolutely dazzling. She beautifully danced between the opposing sides of her character, speaking to her talent and affinity for the role.

As someone with a love for art history, I particularly enjoyed the Mona Lisa motif. It elegantly touched on the absurd elitism within the art collection industry. The motif is also fitting when tied with the media stir after Just Stop Oil protestors threw a can of soup on one of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings at the National Gallery in London. 

I’d like to say that “Glass Onion” has cemented my appreciation for Johnson’s work. If you’re looking for a thoughtful whodunit that can also provoke a couple of laughs here and there, then I recommend you give it a watch.

Though “Glass Onion” was pulled from theaters on Thursday, it will be available on Netflix on Dec. 23. 

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