The world’s greatest detective returns in ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

The return of the “Knives Out” franchise also marks the first time all three major U.S. theater chains have agreed to show a Netflix film.

The cast and characters of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

A fashion designer who can’t seem to stay away from a scandal. A men’s rights streamer with a love of guns. An influential scientist behind a massive breakthrough. A governor with a platform on green energy. A diverse cast of characters with only one thing in common: their friendship with billionaire Miles Bron. 

The scene is set for the second film in the Knives Out franchise: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” Directed by Rian Johnson and starring Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe and a full cast of other well-known actors, “Glass Onion” is not just an interesting film because of its mystery, but also its unusual limited release before becoming available on Netflix.  

It’s no small feat to try to make a sequel that lives up to the original, especially in the wake of the success of 2019’s “Knives Out.” Ranked as the 21st highest grossing film of 2019, “Knives Out” brought in over $165 million in the domestic box office and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%

Meanwhile, “Glass Onion” received only $15 million in the box office, but there’s a good reason for that. The film only had a one week theatrical release from Nov. 23 to 29, and was shown in only 600 theaters in the US. An interesting move, considering a wide release of a movie usually has around 3,000 theaters, but also a historic one, according to AP News, as this was the first time all major U.S. theaters played a Netflix release

After its global Netflix release on December 23rd, “Glass Onion” rocketed to the top of Netflix's charts. For the week of Dec. 19 to 25 alone, “Glass Onion” was already number one with over 82 million hours viewed. Meanwhile in Netflix’s number two spot, “The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari” had only 25 million hours viewed.

Daniel Craig returns as the lovable southern detective Benoit Blanc, the world’s greatest detective — the words of everyone else, not him, he insists. The rest of the cast is completely new, with big names such as Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr., Kathryn Hahn, and Dave Bautista. 

Instead of a mansion, “Glass Onion” takes place on Bron's private island in Greece, and instead of an unhappy family, it’s the tenuous ties of unbalanced friendships that are tested. 

It’s an entirely different mystery, and that’s the point, said director Rian Johnson in an interview with Variety. He was frustrated that “Knives Out” was even in the title. 

“I get it, and I want everyone who liked the first movie to know this is next in the series, but also, the whole appeal to me is it’s a new novel off the shelf every time,” said Johnson. 

If the cast and location has changed, then what’s stayed the same? Just like “Knives Out”, “Glass Onion” was about more than just a murder mystery. 

At its core, the burgeoning Knives Out franchise creates stories about holding those in power accountable and giving the underdogs the means to do it. Benoit Blanc — the only unifying character between movies — acts as a helper for the person who has been damaged by an unjust system. He is a medium for others to achieve justice by revealing the truth, and it’s a satisfying story to watch every time. 

In all honesty, I liked the original “Knives Out” movie just a bit more, though I think above all else, “Glass Onion” fell prey to my own high expectations.  That prevented me from really recognizing some of its cleverness the first time I watched it. 

There was so much about “Glass Onion” that impressed me, though. Janelle Monáe’s performance was both masterful and moving, and the return of Daniel Craig’s terrible southern accent was a constant delight. Not to mention, I’d been dreading the day when films would start attempting to tackle Covid, but “Glass Onion” walked the line perfectly, keeping it light and giving a real insight into the personality of each character.

The movie is not just a visual delight, but also a comedic one, and there’s never a boring moment throughout the film.

“Glass Onion” may not be exactly like “Knives Out”, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s not only a different story, it’s a different kind of mystery from “Knives Out”, which is important to remember going into the movie.

If you can take that and run with it, it immediately becomes so much more fun to watch.

“Glass Onion” is witty, surprising, and still filled with just as many twists and turns that the audience has come to want from a Benoit Blanc mystery.