“Knives Out” sequel unravels layers upon layers of mystery

Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

Detective Benoit Blanc playing Among Us during the COVID-19 lockdown isn’t something one would expect to see in Rian Johnson’s sequel to his 2019 critically acclaimed whodunnit “Knives Out.” But — if you’ve moved on from that phase and find no interest — you’ll still find lots of other surprises in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” because twists and turns pack this tightly-layered and cutting satire of celebrity culture.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” begins with a puzzle. Friends of genius, playboy and billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) are invited to his private island in Greece to solve an elaborate make-believe murder mystery, with Bron as the victim. Tension and drama quickly unravel when surprise guests arrive and superficial games are traded for real homicides.

The sequel essentially acts as a standalone mystery, with no major connection to the predecessor other than Daniel Craig’s southern-drawing Blanc. But here, Craig feels more free to play Blanc with all his theatrical might and he’s unequivocally magnetic on the screen. (If his entrancing accent isn’t enough to catch your attention, his keen fashion style surely will.)

The ensemble cast create a peculiar canvas of characters in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” a governor of Connecticut (Kathryn Hahn), a model-turned-fashion icon (Kate Hudson), an idealistic scientist (Leslie Odom Jr.), an Andrew Tate-inspired Twitch streamer (Dave Bautista) and an estranged friend from the past (Janelle Monáe).

Monáe goes far and beyond. Her character’s presence in the film is an enigmatic puzzle on its own that demands to be solved. Monáe’s deeply poignant and refined portrayal will leave you questioning everything. If I reveal anymore about her character, it would ruin the surprise — in a way you’d least expect it.

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The commentary on the wealthy is sharper this time around thanks to the cast’s hilarious chemistry. Jabs are taken at celebrity culture, the uber-wealthy and self-proclaimed visionaries like Bron’s analogous Mark Zuckerberg. The satire couldn’t be any more relatable to the current state of society and audiences will have a deadly good time taking a stab at the rich.

With any “Knives Out” story, you can certainly expect the unexpected and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is no different. This time, Johnson takes a less rigorous approach to the classic detective story. He makes it easy for the audience to peel back the many facades, alibis and motives of our suspects.

“Easy” doesn’t mean that the mystery can be swiftly solved. It does mean that it may result in a whodunnit less intricate than its predecessor. By the end — when the game is wrapped up and Blanc signs off for the night — you may feel a little let down.

There’s not much else I can say without giving it away. Whether you enjoy more convoluted and complicated mysteries or not, Johnson’s new whodunnit will still be an enjoyable murder mystery, one that is as sharp and layered like a “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”

Rating: 4/5

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” was released in select theaters from Nov. 23 – Nov. 29. It will be available for streaming on Netflix on Dec. 23. Rated PG-13 for murder (obviously). Runtime: 2 hours 20 minutes.