The litany of the best Netflix movies is varied, but there's been a curious case when it comes to Netflix Originals. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery looks to be the film to break this pattern, offering a lively and fun movie that will also be critically appreciated.
Yes, Netflix movies seem to often go for just prestige and serious drama or fun and laughs. Neither is a bad thing, but I've been waiting for Netflix's films to deliver something that a wider audience can appreciate while also not feeling bad about themselves for watching it.
And so I'm happy to state that director Rian Johnson's done exactly what I (and I believe Netflix, as well) have been hoping for. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is practically the perfect Netflix movie, so much so that I've seen it twice. I'm truly impressed, and this Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review will explain why.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review — a cast that keeps you laughing
Glass Onion continues Johnson's homage to Agatha Christie's mystery novels with pitch-perfect casting that enables all the small things to be done right. And it all starts with the one holdover from Knives Out: Benoit Blanc, Daniel Craig's detective whose sleuthing skills are as strong as his southern drawl. And, yes, the novelty of James Bond voiced like a southern gentleman still has not worn off.
Called back into action with an invite to a murder mystery party — hosted on a private island in Greece by tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) — Blanc is a delight because this work is his life. And he's been a bit out of practice (with good reason). This change of pace for Blanc — he's out of practice and the odd man out — works perfectly for Craig, giving him more emoting to do.
But Blanc is even more of an interloper this time than last, as his presence on the island doesn't quite make sense. Bron's called his friends — a group of influencers, movers and shakers who call themselves disruptors — down to this island for a party.
The competition to be the loudest of the bunch is between Kate Hudson's Birdie and Dave Bautista's Duke, a pair of unaware goofs who are leaning on Bron for help in their careers. Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.) works for Bron's company, while Claire (Kathryn Hahn) is a rising politician. Both are the brains of the guests, but each gets some fun to work with since they're stuck in frustrating situations.
All of Bron's buddies form a sort of orchestra of silliness and stupidity, especially as Hudson delivers lines that any adult should be smart enough to know not to say, with a flatness that subtly signifies she's not in on the joke.
Then, there's Andi (Janelle Monáe), Bron's ex who is here despite being on less-than-ideal terms with the host. Monáe, thankfully, gets the most to work with out of all of the 'guests,' and is the most fun to watch.
Filled with surprises, and excellent bits (the stuff with her consumption of alcohol is notable), Monáe's performance is my favorite in the whole cast. So much so that Glass Onion should be huge for her career. Her previous work in dramas (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) was notable, but this exposure in a comedic vehicle will make a wider audience take notice.
Then, there's Edward Norton, whose Miles Bron could have felt like a stand-in for any big tech CEO had this movie come out in any other season. Norton deftly weaves in odd mannerisms that might remind you of Zuckerberg. He wears an outfit that's straight out of the Steve Jobs look book.
But I can't help but see Miles Bron as an amazing mockery of Elon Musk. And the way Norton personifies unearned confidence and a repeated lack of understanding of common concepts, I doubt I'll be the only one seeing the character that way.
In short, Glass Onion is all about the dumb leading the dumber, and a detective trying to figure out a mystery at the center of it. And thanks to marvelous casting, none of it feels forced or odd. It's just topical.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review: Why this is the perfect Netflix movie
Look up and down the list of popular movies on Netfilx, and you'll recall that early Coldplay hit: "look at the stars, look how they shine for you." And this is the first of a couple of reasons why Glass Onion is going to be a smash for Netflix.
You've got a pair of action heroes in Daniel Craig and Dave Bautista. Then, Edward Norton whose career is dripping with prestige. Janelle Monáe is the cross-over musician-actor who courts the younger audience, Kate Hudson makes it a must for all of her rom-com fans and Kathryn Hahn is thriving so much these days the term 'Hahnassaince' came into the modern parlance.
Then, there's the rewatchability. While Glass Onion's not exactly the novel breath of fresh air that its predecessor was, its big twist (and boy is there a big twist) will have you coming back for seconds. As mentioned above, I saw it in theaters twice, and found that I liked it more the second time.
If you don't know, Netflix is all about hours watched. While it still needs to grow its audience and retain subscribers, Netflix's major public measurement of success is time spent watching a movie or show. And, so, I can only imagine how much Netflix execs were delighted to discover Glass Onion's twist. Knowledge of it definitely enhances the second viewing, as you'll see scenes differently.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review verdict
Between a perfectly crafted plot that twists and turns in ways I refuse to spoil in this Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review and its excellent cast of all-stars playing buffoons, Rian Johnson's sequel proves that Netflix was right to invest in dual Knives Out movies (nothing is known about the third yet).
Sure, Glass Onion feels like it's missing something, and it's not hard to understand why. It's a sequel that's based on everyone around its detective sleuth. While we do learn a little more about Mr. Blanc (in delightful moments) this time, Glass Onion is all about presenting a fun whodunnit.
Johnson's new locale may be sunnier and more glamorous, but the cast is just as excellent (the original had Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Ana de Armas, to name a few).
Filled with everything from zingers about celebrity-endorsed products to cameos you won't see coming (pay attention to the end credits), Glass Onion is a true charmer.
Much like the hard kombucha that Bron's guest imbibe throughout the film, Glass Onion goes down smooth, with subtle kicks. And I bet you'll watch it again.