One of the rare sequels to be as fresh as the original.
I’ve seen both “Knives Out” movies at the Chicago International Film Festival, and I loved both of them. Each one, written and directed by Rian Johnson, offers Agatha Christie-inspired puzzles, half of which are ingenious, and the other half are just plain wacky. And they both feature Daniel Craig-the British actor having fun with the Southern accent-as Detective Benoit Blanc, who knows how to play the crime game with a comical Sherlock Holmes aspect. I’m talking about the clues, not his personality.
We all know the gimmick and formula of sequels. They usually think they’re trying to be original, when they repeat the same tricks in disguise. “Horrible Bosses 2” or “Ghostbusters 2” or “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” are examples of that. But every once in a while there are sequels that can be as brilliant as their predecessors. “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part 2,” the “Toy Story” franchise, “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” and the “Mad Max” movies. And now, both “Knives Out” movies join the brilliant list.
Now titled “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and being distributed by Netflix, this sequel takes place during the COVID lockdown, where the new list of suspects are given a vaccine that’s only painful for a moment, as they’re invited to a private Greek island owned by tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). They don’t wear masks for the rest of their visit, which is refreshing.
The suspects this time consist of the Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), the scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom, Jr.), the fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick), the YouTube star Dick Cody (Dave Bautista), his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), and the last person they all wish to be reunited with-Miles’ ex-business partner Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monae). She had a little disagreement with the billionaire, and they all turned against her.
Could I be even less specific about the story? Well, I want you to all be surprised and taken in by its execution and direction. And you hate spoiler alerts. So, to answer you’re question: Yes, I must be less specific.
But I can convince you that “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” has its reasons for its title, and surprises and makes you laugh at almost every turn. At the Chicago International Film Festival, the audience was exploding with laughter. They were laughing at the wacky antics and contraptions; they were amazed at the cameos (featuring the recently departed Angela Lansbury and Stephen Sondheim); and they couldn’t keep to themselves about how Johnson pulls it all together.
Among the brilliant actors with great roles, Craig continues to have fun with his character by pushing himself deeper in comedy territory, Monae surprises us in more ways than we know, Norton plays the billionaire with charisma, Bautista knows how to hide his gun, Hahn is wickedly charming, and Hudson brings on the offensive behavior-some more incorrect than others. These are actors who love being part of a whodunit that’s more than meets the eye. Again, I was expecting the same tricks, but they’re different and more complex than you realize.
I wasn’t sure that I would like this as much as the original 2019 hit; but I saw its true colors and puzzles that I can’t even figure out. This is the kind of franchise that Agatha Christie or Alfred Hitchcock would enjoy. And it actually makes sense that “Glass Onion” would make its way to Netflix, especially its COVID theme. Not trying to offend anyone. I’m just saying. But it’s also exhilarating that they and AMC Theaters agreed to collaborate….at least for a week.
In Select Theaters For a One Week Engagement Next Wed.
Streaming on Netflix December 23