Take my advice. Once the tryptophan wears off, load your family and friends into the car to go see “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” in a theater.
Sure, Netflix has bought writer-director Rian Johnson’s comic mystery franchise, and “Glass Onion” will be streaming on Dec. 23. But Netflix has put the film in theaters (including Marcus Point and AMC Fitchburg in Madison) for a one-week sneak preview for Thanksgiving.
Sillier and sunnier than its predecessor but just as clever, “Glass Onion” plays like gangbusters with a crowd. It’s one of the best comedies of the year masquerading as one of the best mysteries of the year, with knife-sharp dialogue, heightened performances, and an interlocking series of twisty puzzles at its center. Besides, you’ll want to watch it a second time on Netflix anyway to catch all the clues you missed the first time.
Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, the master detective with a devastating sense of style and an expansive vocabulary (“Buttress yourself!”). “Glass Onion” takes place in the early months of the pandemic, and Blanc chafes in lockdown, playing “Among Us” with a few famous friends (the celebrity cameos are hilarious, and a couple are even poignant) to keep his wits sharp.
So he leaps at an invitation from tech-bro billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) for a getaway weekend on his private Greek island, an ostentatious estate that looks a lot like the island from the ‘90s video game “Myst.” Miles has planned a murder mystery party for his old friends to solve, including a rising politician (Kathryn Hahn), a Joe Rogan-esque YouTuber (Dave Bautista), and a ditzy influencer prone to social media gaffes (Kate Hudson).
The fly in the ointment is that Miles’ bitter ex-business partner (Janelle Monae) has also joined the party, looking to settle old scores. The other wrinkle is that Miles tells Benoit that he didn’t invite him to the party. But then who did?
It’s a classic mystery plot trope, as much as the locked-room murder of “Knives Out” was, and Johnson delights in confounding our expectations about what’s going to happen next. The “Knives Out” movies are classified as “whodunits,” but they could also be called “whodunwhats” — we know somebody’s going to end up dead on the floor for real in the middle of Miles’ game, but we’re kept in suspense about who for longer than I expected.
Johnson’s screenplay is a tightly-constructed marvel, where even the breeziest banter turns out to have hidden meanings. And just as “Knives Out” deftly skewered old-money elites, “Glass Onion” is a merciless satire of the “disruptor” class.
Miles fancies himself and his pals as free thinkers disrupting the system. Benoit sees them clearly as overgrown children breaking things for the fun of it, and leaving others to mop up. Why does our culture still revere people who, in Benoit’s words, “confuse speaking without thought with speaking the truth”? Alas, that’s the one mystery Benoit can’t solve.