On the Screen: ‘Glass Onion’ is a ton of fun

Come for the mystery, stay for the romps

It’s possible that the second Benoit Blanc murder mystery film, “Glass Onion,” doesn’t quite hit the same unimaginable heights of the first, 2019’s “Knives Out,” but it’s easy to forget that because it’s a ton of fun.

Having now seen both films, I’m entirely bought into writer and director Rian Johnson’s vision, and I’ll watch as many Benoit Blanc films as he and lead actor Daniel Craig deign to give us.

Like “Knives Out,” writer and director Johnson again casts a slew of Hollywood actors as fabulously rich people to create an immediately iconic selection of suspects.

This time, Blanc, again played by Craig, finds himself on a secluded Greek island with the “Disruptors,” a group of rich friends including an unscrupulous scientist, a model embroiled in controversy, a disgraced men’s rights Twitch streamer, and the governor of Connecticut.

Each of them travel to the island at the invitation of their host: the lead disruptor, Edward Norton’s tech billionaire Miles Bron — who Johnson has said is not based on Elon Musk — for his murder mystery party. Also present on the island is Bron’s former business partner, since ostracized from the group.

Craig steals every scene in his sophomore showing as the world’s greatest detective with the world’s most outrageous accent — but so does every other actor as every other character. There is not a weak performance in the film.

Some favorites are Dave Bautista as the streamer, Kate Hudson as the model, and especially Janelle Monáe as the partner with an ax to grind.

Of course, someone ends up dead. Of course, after a thrilling investigation Blanc unmasks the killer following a scene-chewing speech. The fun is in how well each of the characters bounce off one another, in countless set pieces, by the pool, over drinks, in front of the Mona Lisa. The production is entirely over the top. The last 20 minutes or so of the film are exhilarating.

The commentary on the excesses of wealth is fairly surface level, but the film does explore to interesting ends the dynamics of a group like the “disruptors,” and the way they each use one another for their own gain — ultimately to the point where lives are lost and the group becomes complacent to atrocities.

What sets “Glass Onion” and the larger Benoit Blanc franchise apart from other mystery films is that it’s having so much fun. This movie is fundamentally silly, and Craig’s enthusiasm as Benoit Blanc is infectious.

There’s a sense of kinetic energy as the film rolls from scene to scene, despite weird but fun bits like Angela Lansbury and Steven Sondheim playing mobile video game sensation Among Us in both of their final screen appearances. Even a more than 30-minute aside halfway through the film fails to derail the momentum.

Come for the mystery and the all-star cast of Hollywood actors, stay for a fun romp with killer reveals and characters equal parts likable and hateable.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is only available streaming on Netflix due to an exclusive deal with the streamer and Johnson. It enjoyed a brief theatrical release for one week in November.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.