The Knives Out sequel is bigger and better than the original

What makes it a more satisfying movie is that Rian Johnson sits down with his characters instead of immediately flaunting their depravity.
Photo: John Wilson/Netflix

This review was originally published in the September issue of the Toronto International Film Festival. We are redistributing them in time glass onionStreaming for the first time on Netflix.

The rich are richer glass onionthe effervescent sequel to Take out the knives which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and is arguably even more terrible — or, at least, terrible in bigger, more obvious ways. While Rian Johnson’s 2019 novel focused on the stunted relatives of a famous novelist, people who offered at least some pretense of respect, his new novel turned its attention to a group of “vandals” notable enough to carry out their nefarious acts on the spot. out in the open. Claire DiBella (Kathryn Hahn) is the Connecticut governor and ambitious senator who speaks tough on CNN while quietly approving untested technology in exchange for donor money. Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) is the chief scientist at Alpha Corporation, responsible for that untested technology, and has rushed timelines and skipped safety procedures at the behest of his boss. Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) is a media personality turned gang-brand owner who is so prone to viral scandals that her assistant, Peg (Jessica Henwick), is her phone guard. Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) is a social media star turned alt-right, using his perennial gun and younger girlfriend, Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), as props.

The wealthiest and most alienated of them all is Mystery Unraveling Weekend’s host, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), a tycoon and supposed genius who doesn’t seem to actually do much except make self-myths and use his money to pay people off. He owes a little more to Elon Musk, but these crumbling pillars of contemporary society are designed to feel at least a little familiar. (Too familiar, perhaps, in Hudson’s case, she’s an absolute screamer as the vapid Birdie, but her energetic brand has been privy to accusations of misdeeds not unlike those of her character’s company, an affinity that’s a joke at the audience’s expense.) glass onion Bigger and more precisely designed than Take out the knives, but what makes it a more satisfying movie is that it sits with its characters more rather than immediately flaunting their depravity. Instead, they are the kind of void that comes from life’s smallest moral compromises, until you’re suddenly on a Greek island with some old friends, and contemplating murder.

There is clearly a murder, though it happens at the end rather than the beginning of the film, and tensions boil over over the course of an annual meeting on Miles’ private Greek island, where he builds a delightfully grotesque mansion that includes a transparent dome filled with billionaire decor and a bachelor pad-dosh. Bagh Taj Mahal. This year, Miles is planning a murder mystery party, though he has a couple of surprise guests. Andy (Janel Monáe), the former business partner who sued him unsuccessfully when he fired her from their firm, was not expected to show up. and Benoît Blanc (Daniel Craig), the lead investigator from Take out the knives, was not invited at all, yet somehow became the recipient of one of the custom puzzle boxes that Miles had shipped to select attendees. Craig’s obvious joy at playing Plank, with his neckerchiefs and Southern fried accent, is infectious, and glass onionThe longer shutdown allows for a look into the character’s personal life, which includes some random and fun cameos. Johnson lets the events jump into a pivotal party sequence made tense by the slightly rushed editing, then takes us back to the beginning, revisiting scenes from different angles and with new information.

For all that is intricately constructed and set in a palatial location on the Mediterranean Sea, glass onion It has an underlying context that isn’t strange at all — it’s a movie that plays at the beginning of a pandemic without feeling like it’s consuming it. Instead, COVID serves as a backdrop but also the source for some of the main character’s details, from the famous painting Miles manages to get on loan from a museum to the useless mesh face mask Birdie favors. Movies that take place during the early days of our global acquaintance with the novel coronavirus tend to feel the same, because so many of us were sitting at home, feeling scared, isolated, and awfully bored. But the characters in glass onion They are not the kind who would feel themselves bound by those same rules, even those who nominally consider themselves more responsible. They’re essentially doing a short, high-quality version of capsule formation, speeding up the dramas that accompany the collapse of many similar arrangements. unlike Take out the kniveswhich almost self-congratulatory in its politics, glass onion He allows his class critique to be included in the characterizations of the group of rogue suspects, who are also living in a moment that has temporarily united much of the world, but who are not at all like the rest of us.

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