Is “Glass Onion” better than “Knives Out”?
Reading Time: 2 minutes Simply creating a good sequel to a great movie can prove difficult. Rian Johnson created a great sequel.
Director Rian Johnson is famed mystery novelist Agatha Christie reincarnated. Johnson’s second foray into the burgeoning “Knives Out” anthological universe is a smashing success — while many questioned Johnson’s ability to replicate the critical and box-office success of the first film, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” delivers on (nearly) every account.
Like its predecessor, “Glass Onion” boasts a star-studded cast. The film is headlined by Daniel Craig, returning as detective Benoit Blanc, with Edward Norton and Janelle Monáe receiving top billing among the ensemble cast which includes other big names such as Dave Bautista and Kate Hudson.
The film is a balancing act of playing into the genre’s clichés and subverting those same clichéd expectations in clever ways. “Knives Out” accomplished its subversion of expectation by revealing the identity of the killer far earlier than the audience would have suspected. “Glass Onion’s” subversion is done differently, though you’ll have to watch the film to know exactly how.
Following the success of “Knives Out,” Netflix acquired the rights to “Glass Onion” and the yet-to-be-released “Knives Out 3.” While Netflix subscribers can watch “Glass Onion” in their homes beginning Dec. 24th of this year, seeing the film on the big screen during its limited theatrical release was absolutely worth it. The sequel touts a budget approximately double that of “Knives Out,” and it seems that every dollar was spent making the film as extravagant and ridiculous as a billionaire’s Mediterranean island getaway could be.
“Glass Onion” utilizes its ridiculousness to amplify its humor often and to great effect. The sequel is funnier than the original, full-stop. Norton is hilariously awful as the slimy, selfish, stupid tech billionaire, and Hudson manages to be irredeemably repugnant and endearing simultaneously. As with “Knives Out,” Johnson characterizes the rich with an ugly dose of realism. The audience laughs not because the characters are outlandish in their ridiculousness, but because their ridiculousness is real.
Though, for all of its merit, “Glass Onion” could have been written tighter. Whereas “Knives Out” was inexplicable in the leanness of its script, the sequel can feel like a bit too much at times. A plethora of red herrings intermingle with clues to the mystery that seem obvious in retrospect. Every good mystery requires bread crumbs for the audience to pick up on, but when every scene is stuffed more full than a bakery, it’s easy for the audience to become overwhelmed.
“Knives Out” is still the better film, despite Johnson’s best efforts with “Glass Onion.” The sequel lacks a certain charm that was quintessential of the original — “Glass Onion” would have benefitted from having a more likable and naïve protagonist a la Ana de Armas’ character in “Knives Out.” With an ensemble of such rotten characters, the relative levity provided by such a character would have served as welcome respite amidst a sea of immorality.
Although “Glass Onion” is unlikely to usher in a cozy Christmas spirit, Netflix subscribers can look to discover the various trails of breadcrumbs themselves on Dec. 24th.