Glass Onion: Knives Out Movie Review: Is the Hype real?

Photo: Stephan Müller

The reviews, trailers and ads are already everywhere – there’s certainly no missing the fact that Glass Onion: Knives Out is the new movie featuring Daniel Craig’s laconic southern detective Benoit Blanc.

This time the celebrated sleuth heads to Greece to solve a case in the European sunshine. Craig drops his Bond Britishness to take the starring role again, supported by a wide range of big star names.

The Glass Onion’s extraordinary cast includes Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae and Golden Globe winner Edward Norton. In some ways it looks like everyone joined in purely for the fun of being there. For Norton, for example, it’s a return to big time movie making after a break to focus on his environmental activism and social entrepreneurism.

Norton is one of the growing small group of well known actors who are also serious casino fans. The star of the poker film ‘Rounders’ is famous for having played in several poker tournaments too and learning those poker hand rankings was no easy feat. He has returned to the big screen in The Glass Onion: Knives Out. The timeless murder mystery is the sequel to Johnson’s first film: Knives Out.

This time Edward Norton plays a thin-skinned tech billionaire, a cartoonish combination of an Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg character. Norton has already been quoted in the press saying how the film is “so much fun” simply because the director Rian Johnson decided to make a movie that is “laced through with jokes”.

The contemporary whodunit has had a really positive response among reviewers based on its preview showings. The definitive Rotten Tomatoes rating is an impressive 92%. The new film is “wildly entertaining” says the website. The cast is “outstanding” it adds. Chief film critic Owen Gleiberman from Variety Magazine is quoted as saying the Glass Onion movie is “even more elaborately multi-faceted” than the first film. It’s “bigger and showier” he says. And top film critic Philip De Semlyen from London’s Time Out website writes: “This smart, sassy murder mystery establishes Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc as a Poirot for the super-rich era.” He agrees that it even tops the initial film in many respects. He says it features “sharper satirical jabs and bigger laughs.”

Photo: Chay García

The Glass Onion film script is being widely praised for its crazy array of contemporary characters. Most reviewers mention their bitchy conversations and exchanges as a highlight of the script. It’s rare to have such positivity for a light-hearted production. In conclusion, Time Out decides the film is “a perfect slice of high-calorie escapism.”

The Glass Onion story involves Norton’s tycoon character inviting the collection of rather nutty super-rich friends to his private Greek island – for what he plans to be a murder mystery party. Of course, the audience is not surprised when there is a real murder. There’s nothing gory to worry about. It’s all sunny and silly. When the body turns up it’s then up to Daniel Craig’s detective Blanc to solve the murder. And it all takes place among a madly entertaining carnival of weird characters and ridiculous rivalries. It’s like Agatha Christie has swigged too much sherry.

Johnson has said that casting all the personalities in the film was “like throwing a dinner party”. Industry insiders say many of the roles were filled simply by the director calling up the various actors unannounced by phone and persuading them to join in. Johnson clearly enjoyed the experience of shooting the $40 million movie. He described the film shoot on the remote Greek island of Spetses as “a summer vacation where we also made a movie.”

Photo: Obregonia D. Toretto

It seems the cast and their families took over a large luxury holiday hotel resort for most of the filming. Plenty of scenes seem to take place by the pool or on lovely sunny beaches.

Other personalities decorating the screen during the 139-minute production include Janalle Monae as a wealthy tech entrepreneur, Kathryn Hahn as the Governor of Connecticut, and Leslie Odon Jr as a madcap scientist. Look out too for co-star turns from Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline and Kate Hudson. Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke makes a cameo appearance too, as an unlikely butler.

Talking of cameos, there are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from a range of big names. Spot Hugh Grant and Yo-Yo Ma if you concentrate hard. Best of all look out for Stephen Sondheim and Angela Landsbury, who are shown having a video chat. Touchingly, this is the last ever movie appearances for either star.

Overall the critical reviews for Glass Onion: Knives Out have been almost unanimously positive. The review compilation website Metacritic says the film has garnered “universal acclaim”.

Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: Knives Out is due to be released as one of the big offerings of Christmas 2022 amongst other films on the Netflix streaming service.