‘Glass Onion” – a murder-mystery comedy with knives out
By Eleanor Ringel Cater
The Walrus is still Paul.
Now that that’s settled, who’s the killer in “Glass Onion,” the new “Knives Out Mystery?”
As someone who wasn’t quite all in on the first “Knives Out,” my expectations weren’t especially high. Still, who doesn’t look forward to a murder-mystery/comedy loaded with stars?
And one bonafide superstar: Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc, a kind of mash-up of Tennessee Williams and Peter Falk’s Columbo.
Blanc and a boatload of suspects-to-be have been summoned to squillionaire Miles Bron’s (Edward Norton) private Greek island for fun, games and a murder.
They include: Kate Hudson as a ditsy former model turned fashionista (her designer sweatpants were pandemic-perfect); David Bautista as a muscular gargoyle who disguises his incel self by bringing along a hottie (Madelyn Cline); Leslie Odom Jr., a brilliant scientist who helped Miles amass his fortune; Kathryn Hahn, a powerful politico running for re-election; and, most importantly, Janelle Monae as Bron’s former business partner who, it turns out, wasn’t invited and certainly wasn’t expected.
See, there’s bad blood between her and the rest of the crew who, at Miles’ behest, helped screw her out of her share of the Bron fortune. However, as the movie reveals, there’s more to Monae’s showing up than we initially know (Hidden clue early on: Miles is strumming another White Album song, “Blackbird singing in the dead of night/Take these broken wings and learn to fly…”)
Anyway, as most of us know from the trailer, Miles intends to be “murdered” over the weekend and his guests will hopefully enjoy figuring out whodunit. Except, things don’t quite work out that way and, just like that, the game’s afoot (oops, wrong detective).
Writer/director Rian Johnson understands – and, more importantly, shares – our delight in seeing a bunch of stars tossed together in something that intends to be nothing more than entertainment (think, George Clooney and the “Ocean’s” movies). And “Glass Onion” accomplishes that quite nicely, depending, I guess, on your fondness for the assembled celebrities.
But what if, like me, you’re not all that fond of Hudson, Hahn, etc.? I mean, I don’t dislike them; I’m just not enamored of them (Monae being a major exception). That means the film’s safety net is the script, which, alas, manages to be both sketchy and overlong.
“Glass Onion” is either too smart or too lazy; I’m not sure which. It does a lot of L.A. name-dropping (a Jeremy Renner hot sauce joke? Yes, it’s before his recent accident, but still…). Plus, the production designer and the costume person have had enormous fun. And any time spent with Craig is never time wasted.
So, let’s give Benoit Blanc the last word. “I expected complexity. I expected intelligence,” says the sleuth.
Well, we all did.
“Glass Onion” can be viewed on Netflix.
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