Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - Daniel Craig is cinema’s most insouciant iconoclast

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - Daniel Craig is cinema’s most insouciant iconoclast

Great expectations can be a killer. The sequel to Rian Johnson’s bold and widely adored whodunnit, Knives Out, has Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc solving a different crime, in a different location, amongst a different set of A-list faces. But now that audiences are expecting the unexpected, is Glass Onion doomed to disappoint? The rumour that’s been doing the rounds, ever since the Toronto premiere, is that it’s not as good as the first one. Which is cobblers. Glass Onion is fantastic: complex and intelligent, outrageously funny and a visual feast. But it does get off to a slow start.

The Drysdales and Thrombeys (the ghastly families in Knives Out) were instantly arresting. The gang at the centre of the new movie are a set of friends who don’t fit together quite as plausibly.

There’s tech billionaire, and self-styled “disruptor”, Miles (Edward Norton); Connecticut politician Claire (Kathryn Hahn); scientist Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr); men’s rights YouTuber Duke and his girlfriend Whiskey (Dave Bautista and Madelyn Cline); fashion designer Birdie Jay and her PA, Peg (Kate Hudson and Jessica Henwick).

This lot gather for a “murder party”, organised by Miles on his Greek Island home, along with Andi (Janelle Monae), Miles’ bitter ex-business partner, and, of course, Blanc, who brings a briefcase. But will this be a brief case? Hardly. And, though the crass Birdie is a hoot, the whole thing feels at first like the bloated work of a director on autopilot, numbed into submission by Netflix cash (the streaming company reportedly paid Johnson $469m for this and one more Knives Out instalment).

O me of little faith. Once the twists kick in, Glass Onion is edge-of-the-seat stuff. The supporting cast aren’t the point. Blanc, Miles and Andi (a woman who, as a little kid, wrote a message for her “future biographers”) supply the film with all the angry oomph it needs.

Craig, looking lovely in a wardrobe that could have been hand-picked by Jean Paul Gaultier, is one of Britain’s most insouciant iconoclasts. He and another British heart-throb (seen in a cameo) just don’t give a monkey’s about protecting their image.

Meanwhile, Norton’s weak chin has never been put to better use; the charismatic and droll Monae offers endless surprises (in the third act, the camera treats her like an action star and she dashes around with left-field aplomb) and the many swipes at rich, self-aggrandising “shit-heads” hit home.

The film lands on Netflix on December 23. Johnson, basically, has been cast by the streaming giant as the Santa Claus of satire. It’s hard to know if his gift will keep on giving (there’s one gaping plot hole; repeat viewings may expose more). At the closing gala of the BFI London Film Festival on Sunday night, though, it felt as if Christmas had come early.


In cinemas from November 23 for one week only, and on Netflix globally from December 23