I'm a big fan of Rian Johnson. You don't have to be.
Glass Onion, like Knives Out before it, is a crowd-pleaser in a way that overcomes any and all barriers. Don't like murder mysteries? No worries, Glass Onion is one of the funniest films of the year. Not a fan of deconstructive meta-commentary? Not a problem, it's also one of the cleverest thrillers since its predecessor.
Whatever hurdle you throw at Johnson's impeccable script or pitch-perfect cast, they clear it effortlessly. Whether you're coming in as a fan or with fresh eyes, Glass Onion is like an accommodating party host. The most important thing is that you're having a good time.
Set an unknown time after Knives Out, Glass Onion begins in a state of quarantine, as the entire world has come to a standstill. Celebrities take to social media to get their daily dose of attention. Brogrammers buy expensive creations from others and parade them as an extension of themselves. Somewhere, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is losing his marbles from boredom.
Then, a bizarre invite arrives in the mail. A holiday in the sun on a remote island in Greece. So exclusive the word itself isn't enough to cover it. On top of that, it's a murder mystery-themed party. How could Blanc resist?
Naturally, not everything is as it first appears, and everyone has something to hide. Even the island feels like it's got more to tell than you'd first guess. Even that might not be true, and everything is exactly as it appears to be.
Revealing anything about the plot is pointless not because of spoilers, but because part of the fun is seeing how the reveals lock into place. Johnson is one of the smartest and craftiest writers in the business, and his scripts never cheat the audience for a cheap gotcha.
As with its predecessor, Glass Onion reveals more every time you watch it. There are hooks, red herrings, and sleights of hand around every corner. It's a film that would make Johnson's earlier fantabulist masterpiece, Brothers Bloom, gush with pride. And while the film plays to Johnson's thematic strengths (everyone is here to rewrite their life one way or another), it's a thrill to see him as a director and writer who never rests on his laurels. Whatever you expect from Glass Onion, Johnson delivers in a way that's wholly unexpected, yet never anything but delightful.
None of this would work without a stellar cast, and Glass Onion does not disappoint. Everyone has brought their A-game, but this is Janelle Monáe's game. We're all just playing it. She has the hardest part, and she runs away with the film.
But credit must be given to Craig, who anchors the picture in a humane, often hilarious, and never schlocky performance. Blanc is already one of the great screen detectives in the long line of Peter Sellers and Hercule Poirot. Craig grounds his foibles and confusions in a character who always feels like he's three games ahead of the one the rest are playing. Even when he's baffled about the world.
It's a shame we don't get to see Glass Onion on the big screen. This is the kind of old-fashioned and classy picture the 90s thrived on. The kind you take a bunch of friends to see, so you can then dissect it afterward over drinks.
Sure, you can do that online. But it's not the same, is it? At its heart, Glass Onion may snicker at modernity forcing us into toxic coexistence. But it believes in connection, humanity, and empathy above everything else. It would be only fitting to celebrate that in a darkened room with a few hundred strangers, each trying to work out just what the hell is around the corner.