Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery ★★★

Much like the film itself states in its discourse, about ignoring the obvious by focusing in looking for the intrinsic complex layers surrounding it – if you manage to look passed all the overly-complicated jabbering, much of that means specially ignoring all the political biased side of Johnson’s ideological leanings that’s transparent and on your nose as the direction that the film is going; then you can definitely have some easy fun out of the whodunit genre gaming that Rian Johnson achieves here, what’s the movie is (or should’ve been) first and foremost!

Arguably more entertaining so than the first movie dare I say, as the director is clearly enjoying much more fun and limitless creativity to play around, recreating the Agatha Christie and Clue dynamic he helped set in the first movie, and this time taking some very obvious inspirations from And Then There Were None, even borrowing a bit of the exotic locale and shady characters of another whodunit movie classic Herbert Ross’s The Last of Sheila.

It moves a little too mechanical, and some of its (CONSTANT) red hearings and bits fall clumsy in an execution that feels so full of itself. But hey, there’s a price to be paid to endure Rian Johnson rejoicing a bit of his ego to deliver some genuine fun with a material that seemed all but dead, now in big expensive mainstream form (even if now getting secluded inside Netflix).

But after you pass a very solid first half, where the movie flows deliciously well, having Craig's Benoit Blanc having so much fun his born to play role, and being gifted with a MUCH more of a central role and active presence in the movie, turns everything all the more pleasant, with the script around him being actually funny and snarky; and that catches you off guard in the succeeding twists and turns that it makes almost immediately from the get go, that holds your attention into its unraveling without calling too much attention to its political satirization, leaving it all as subtext only;

After the big reveal that really shocks you, the film gets caught up in a back and forth complicating its own situation that tries to act as a deception of mystery, but it is rather the film warping itself to sound "unpredictable", dismantling the layers upon layers by a ‘peek behind the curtain’ viewpoint, much like he’d  done in the previous movie around de Armas’s character, now giving that same role to Janelle Monáe – being that previously revealed element that actually carried a hefty punch – that could’ve been used to built a genuine heart here; but gets very distracting pretty soon, used in a way that amplifies the presence of the actress, in a creative way, but it helps to make the second half of the film excessively repetitive.

Turning what was an efficient exotic landscape thriller to quickly become a generic back and forth of flashbacks within flashbacks fitting together the pieces of the board he has assembled, adding in there some ‘attempts’ of drama, psychological intrigue, but lacking the balls (or interest) in following some of the bleaker notes.

Followed by diving in head first in making a complete recycling of the previous movie in flashier ‘subvert expectations’ clothing, just as before, making the central character of the narrative a the minority woman co-protagonist next to Blanc, acting as an equal / superior to his detective skills, and in the end, rising above her oppressors and becoming a symbol in the form of a political statement against conservative America.

And worse of all: making, AGAIN, the obvious choice of antagonist being ultimately the right choice from the get go, whose point that Johnson is trying to get across with this I guess is: don’t ever trust the white guy. Well the movie itself admits that is dumb, so who am I to beg the differ?! It doesn’t make it any less silly Johnson!

By borrowing from Paul McCartney’s definition of the Beatle’s Glass Onion music title: transparency isn’t seen by the avid seeker of complexity, and if you read too much into something, you might just get blind for what it is. The bitter critic would say that is used by Johnson to disguise his own limitations and lack of actual ideas, but is actually the very tool he’s using since the first movie to build an entire whodunit mystery structure by supposedly subverting the genre and turning its conventions upside down.

Just to arrive at very common place of obvious result, but fooling you into thinking that all the mystery won't go the obvious expected route, and “SURPRISING” you with it in the end! That might’ve worked in the first to some degree, but now? Is there a vicious circle of repetition commentary been said here or is it just plain laziness?! Making this Knives Out saga ultimately about the very same point: how people in power are just awful. And state the moral lesson of how much wrong you are for judging any different the poor color/latino/female minority that he’s putting at such elevated roles.

It sounds all nice and good intentions, but feels utterly mechanical to reach a political point and less a logical movie. If any of the politics were even smart, because opting by base the entire thing so much in the political scenario of 2020, the film already feels like, not dated, but constantly eye-rolling in what it seeks to comment on vaccination and the default of the rich towards the situation. Like UAL hasn’t Twitter made the entire job this movie is trying to make it as is sharp critique?! Is your usual check-box of “look, we are addressing this too, see how much we care”, but at this point of no return for modern Hollywood, I digress.

It does extra benefits for having a more likeable cast which helps to sell the fun present here. Dave Bautista is becoming the official scene stealer of any movie he’s in and I’m all in for it because yet again he’s showing his presence by this time making Joe Rogan and Alex Jones mashup and he’s priceless at it. And for the much heat I might give to Johnson, casting Kate Hudson in such an outlandish presence has my most tender appreciation because is so nice seeing her being cast in this big a movie and being yet another scene stealer of it.

Although say what you want about the first movie, I sure as hell did, but that one at least knew how to make its individual characters actually interesting and real, with real build mystery around then. As the rest of the cast here serve as plot pieces and their personalities is just an afterthought, given much for comedic effect or ‘POTENTIAL suspects’; these still are a bunch of funny ass-holes in their own right, you even feel bad for Kate Hudson’s character, but all of them act more like delightful caricatures to poke fun at the conservative phony politicians, the man-babies influencers that advocate for men’s rights, the billionaires abusing power, your Elon Musk, conservatives and whatnot.

Making their entire personality projection in the form of vanity projects – like a murder mystery as the one that kick starts the film’s plot, but covered with phony concepts and ideas that’s as limited as their intellectual thinking. Or worse, build empires whose foundations are all lies. Unquestionably inapprehensible scums of the earth, and if there’s a way to fight against these sort of individuals is by taking a stand against the oppressor is the moral way out!

This may sound like the most conventional comparison imaginable but if Agatha Christie herself knew how to see the humanity behind the killer(s) in something like Murder on the Orient Express proved and time and time again in all its different adapted versions; Johnson can only think of treating everything with the mere cynicism that has been present in almost everything coming out of Hollywood these days.

Did he need to humanize these assholes? Of course not, unless he made his intentions clearer. Is it all a satire? Trying to cram in some character depth solely around its poor victim protagonist? Both? So why does it all feel confusingly conceived in a messy output?

Well, if that’s your thing, good for you, I’m sure you’ll have a heck of a time laughing at all the dick jokes, Trump allusions, and the whole recycled remarks that you by know have seen in countless other current movies with the same political biases. And if that makes you feel vindicate and makes you feel smart about spotting the “OH LOOK HE’S POOKING FUN AT THAT THING THAT TWITTER ALSO MADE FUN OFF”, then good for you!

I bet half of the audience of this actually cheered in claps as that statement is made in the form of a burning of the Mona Lisa – a very likely symbol of oppression according to this movie. What? Have a work of art crafted by a white man standing as the greatest work of art of Western civilization?! That’s dated, we live in a new age, where the old is nothing but outdated and used as foundations for pseudo intellectuals to use to leverage their fragile arguments filled with prejudice. We need people like our dear diverse protagonist that symbolize change and real strength!

I’m sorry but if that’s really what Rian Johnson and its audience are really buying for, it just comes off empty and emptily showy!

This is quite literally running in the same veins as Don’t Look Up, in this reunion of smug Hollywood high levels feeling so good about themselves at making a critique of everything they think is wrong about capitalist America. With Johnson’s writing and the entire cast behavior here resounds like “We are just like you”, signaling their all so priceless life-saving virtue.

Rich people are stupid? You don’t say Johnson…, you must know better than anyone living among so many of them, oh well! Redundant is what defines this sequel!


P.S: I’ve never seen Ethan Hawke getting this much thrown away for nothing!

Couldn’t he had been the hippie dude Derol who shows up all the time for that lame joke? It would’ve been so much funnier if it was Ethan in that role!

But oh that role is played by Noah Segan so Rian had to prioritize employing his usual partnering friends, I get it.

And yes I laughed at Hugh Grant to, is impossible not to.

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Raphael Georg liked these reviews