“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is a bit of a clunky title. But the film itself, which only ever calls itself “Glass Onion” on screen, is a delightful trifle of a mystery movie, a laugh-out-loud comedy that deserves to be a mass market theatrical hit. Sadly, it won’t be, as Netflix is only screening it for a week in movie houses before pulling it back to arrive on streaming for Christmas.
Perhaps “Glass Onion” is better experienced on streaming — at least philosophically.
But perhaps “Glass Onion” is better experienced on streaming — at least philosophically. After all, this is a movie about a group of horrendously louche nouveau riche breaking all the rules mid-pandemic to play a murder mystery game on an island in the Aegean Sea. And its message — that billionaires are the dumbest among us — feels especially timely.
The original “Knives Out” was a brilliant reimagining of the 1920s-era “Manor House Mystery” made popular by Agatha Christie. Franchise creator Rian Johnson correctly recognized that the American 1% are the modern-day equivalent of the post-World War I aristocracy, and that setting murders within their estates mirrored Christie’s own era. The southern accented Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is Johnson’s modern Hercule Poirot, a fish out of water among the elite who is seen by his quarry as an amusing sideshow. (Obviously, this backfires.)
The first film was very appropriately set in an English-style estate in New England, where the family looked down upon Blanc’s accent while underestimating him. The follow-up is less of a twisty whodunit and more of a broader comedy, but Johnson once again takes aim at the super rich. This time we’re skewering Silicon Valley moguls, with Edward Norton as tech billionaire Miles Bron. He invites “old friends,” most of whom have risen by clinging to his coattails, to a Greek Island with the meta-intention of spending the weekend playing a murder mystery game based on the Christie tales.