Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is a standout amongst the rest of his filmography. An easily franchise-able murder-mystery in the style of Agatha Christie and the old-school whodunnit, Knives Out is unique in that it can carry over Daniel Craig’s bumbling genius of a detective Benoit Blanc into any given scenario. This time around, gone are the gothic mansions and decadence of the original. Instead, we are gifted colorful, stunning locales, and a high-tech setup that takes aim at cancel culture and renewable energy. Haters of Knives Out may not find much here to sway their minds, but for my money, excellent sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a thrilling blast that kept me guessing to the end.

For Blanc’s second on-screen mystery tale, the intricate party invitations of an eclectic millionaire pull Benoit in for another round of murder-solving. Boarding the impressive luxury yacht of megamind Miles (Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk, Fight Club), Blanc and invitees are transported off to a remote Greek island. There, Miles ensures the group in the most meta way imaginable that this murder-mystery party will be “next level.” Their entire playground is intricately designed on the island, loving called a Glass Onion in its intricacies. Like the Glass Onion itself, Benoit observes that the center of the mystery should be in plain sight; and that it is. As promised, we meet a variety of potential suspects before one of them is genuinely murdered. Motives galore fly in every direction. Is it the cocky influencer lovingly dubbed a Men’s Rights YouTuber, Duke (Dave Bautista, Guardians of the Galaxy, Army of the Dead), Duke’s much younger sidekick girlfriend, Whiskey (Madelyn Cline, Boy Erased, Stranger Things 2), or perhaps Miles’ fiery scorned ex-partner, Andi (Janelle Monae, Antebellum, Moonlight)? How about the on-edge politician (Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision, Bad Moms), scientist Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton, NBC’s Smash), or maybe fabled fashion icon, Birdie (Kate Hudson, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Fool’s Gold), and her personal assistant, Peg (Jessica Henwick, Iron Fist, Love and Monsters), are behind it all?

One thing the majority of these weirdos have in common is that they have all been basically “cancelled” by society at large, be it by endorsing rhino boner pills or a crazy white woman comparing oneself to Harriet Tubman. Miles proclaims the group as the “disruptors,” who all have reached the so-called “infraction point” in society, and are properly shunned for it. Of course, Benoit sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the others. Why has he been drawn here? Miles made only five of the specialty glass onion boxes, so who reset the box and passed it off to Benoit as a genuine invite? As warm and welcoming as an ominous anonymous invitation may be, Benoit is unsure as to whether or not he should stay to see things through. It doesn’t take long for a body to fall, and fingers to point in every conceivable direction.

An annual friendship meeting turns deadly just before Miles introduces his plans to unveil a brand-new, affordable and revolutionary way towards energy through hydrogen fuel. If all goes according to plan, he will become even more disgustingly rich than he already is. One thing is for sure, just like in the excellent 2019 original: nothing is as it first appears. Each of the characters are key in unlocking the truths at the core. One monumental moment about halfway into the runtime makes way for a surprising turn into revealing the truth. Even if one won’t win a free iPad in return for unlocking Glass Onion’s various layers, Johnson’s scripting rewards close watching and analysis. Key gags and hilarious moments are earned by being built up, and that much more effective when they play out before an audience. Unlikable socialite characters eventually give way to a surprising amount of depth, but Johnson plays up the aggressive spending appetites of the rich by having Miles quite literally own the Mona Lisa itself, and having ostrich-like robots that transport the luggage of his island visitors.

MVP’s include Kate Hudson’s Birdie, an obvious satirical take on the actress herself mixed with an extremist blonde stereotype, including Hudson’s own historic photoshoots used as magazine covers and a nod to her fitness company, Fabletics; Craig’s Benoit Blanc, who again plays up his comical accent and impeccable chemistry with the rest of the ensemble cast; and Janelle Monae’s mysterious Andi, a character that calls on the actress to carry nearly as big of a role as Marta played by Ana de Armas in Knives Out. Without a doubt, Birdie is my favorite Kate Hudson performance since her turn in Glee as authoritative professor Cassandra July. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery would certainly make for an excellent asshole rich-elite double feature with 2022’s Triangle of Sadness. Get ready to ignite the flames of shock and awe when Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion encases the audience in its layers of curiosities.

Try to solve Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery when it debuts to limited release theaters on November 23rd before releasing globally to Netflix on December 23rd.

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