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  • Writer's pictureJames McCleary

Glass Onion // Film Review

Benoit Blanc isn’t very good at Cluedo, but he’s still a damn good detective.

Like Knives Out, the hotly anticipated Glass Onion (dir. Rian Johnson) isn’t particularly interested in the foibles of geniuses and criminal masterminds. Instead, Johnson keeps his satirical laser focused on the real powers behind western culture; eclectic idiots on purchased thrones. Midway through the film, Blanc (played ridiculously once again by a game Daniel Craig) confesses to a client that he is not Batman. He has a mind capable of deducing any truth, but his findings are not for him to enforce. He will gladly present evidence to a court, but equally will trust in the system to exact judgement. He is not a man who wins games, only one who ensures they are played fairly.

The dilemna that Glass Onion presents then, is a series of crimes committed by people so powerful that they can quite literally afford to be careless. The film takes place on an exotic Greek island on which stands the Glass Onion, a gorgeous shrine to tech millionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Bron has invited a selection of friends and associates to the island for a weekend of drinks, good times and a twist-ridden murder mystery party, with himself playing the part of victim.

These guests include democrat governor Claire (Kathryn Hahn), Silicon Valley scientist Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr), tech entrepreneur Andi (Janaelle Monae), fashion guru Birdy (Kate Hudson) and men’s rights Twitch streamer Duke (Dave Bautista), who is introduced to us mid-sermon on the “breastification” of America. Each of these people owes a great deal to Bron, but equally each has plenty of reasons to want him dead. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for the murder mystery party to become “so real”, in the words of one panicked guest.

Also present on the island is Blanc, and to say more about his involvement would be to spoil a film that lives and dies on its intricate and labyrinthian structure. There are flashbacks, cutaways and perspective changes aplenty; indeed, it takes nearly a full two hours for the exact order of events to become clear, and another thirty minutes to explain the reasonings behind them. If Knives Out was an Agatha Christie novel come to life, Glass Onion is more akin to an episode of Steven Moffat’s Sherlock, where nothing makes a lick of sense until everything does, just at the moment your patience is about to snap.

In the meantime, Johnson keeps us entertained with his vivid eye for landscapes, showcasing the gorgeous sights of his Mediterranean setting with embellished flair from composer Nathan Johnson (building off his iconic sound on the original Knives Out). This is all paired with a range of deliriously fun performances from the various members of its ensemble. Norton and Bautista are the comic highlights, but it is Monae who steals the show as a puzzlebox figure whose arc takes a hard turn every time we risk coming close to figuring her out.

At the end of the day though, the gambit of a mystery like Glass Onion only works on the fulfilled promise of a good payoff, and the last thirty minutes certainly deliver, firing out revelations like machine gun rounds. However, unlike the cathartic ‘gotcha’ that brought Knives Out home, the twisting conclusions of Glass Onion are a bitter pill to swallow. The simple facts of the case, as Blanc sadly notes, are that today’s true villains are all but immune to legal charges; they cheat and lie, and no number of deductions are enough bring them down. Blanc does not play games, and we can’t blame him once we realise just how crudely this one is rigged against him.

It’s a dark turn, and feels crafted specifically in the wake of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover and reinstatement of Donald Trump, despite being written and filmed over a year ago (which is really a testament to how long we’ve been suffering under idiots of his kind). Glass Onion could easily have ended on this sour truth, but instead Johnson chooses to look forwards, channeling his frustrations into a blazingly furious finale which proposes an entirely anarchist solution to our most modern evils.

The final beats of Glass Onion are a stunning show of force that eschew genre conventions to declare war against those who think they call all our shots. Even those who were somehow convinced Knives Out was not political will struggle to believe the same of Glass Onion, and the film is all the stronger for it. Benoit Blanc is no good at games, and if Glass Onion has one argument it’s that sometimes the only way to beat a game-player is to break some toys.


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