Glass Onion finds the truth buried in absurdity | Pittsburgh City Paper

Glass Onion finds the truth buried in absurdity

click to enlarge A group of four fashionably dressed people poses in a well-decorated room.
Photo: John Wilson/Netflix
Glass Onion
How do you follow up a movie like Knives Out? While it's not difficult to fashion a sequel to an original twisty, funny detective story, the challenge is measuring up to its exploration of racial and class tension and the absurdities of the social media age.

Oh, and the 2019 movie grossed $313 million. So, what next?

If you’re filmmaker Rian Johnson, the answer is simple: do it all again, and do all of it more. His highly anticipated Knives Out sequel, Glass Onion, unfolds as one of the most fun things you’ll watch in 2022. (The film will end a one-week theater run on Tue., Nov. 29, touted as a sneak preview before it hits Netflix in late December.)

Instead of feeling the weight of being a sequel to a popular film, Glass Onion revels in knowing that audiences want to see what mischief returning character Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, hamming it up again in the best possible way) and a new cast of characters get up to this time. There’s nothing like confidence to buoy a film into reaching for greatness, and Johnson has confidence in spades here.

And he needs it, as the film proves farcical bordering on absurd. Set in the early days of COVID, Detective Blanc is bored and losing his mind in quarantine. That is until he gets a mysterious invitation from elusive tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) to a swanky weekend away on his Greek island with his preferred group of "disruptors." 
click to enlarge Close-up of two men with angry expressions facing each other.
Photo: John Wilson/Netflix
Glass Onion
And of course, that group of disruptors includes some of the worst people you could imagine; a Twitch influencer hawking supplements to make you more of a man (Dave Bautista); a washed-up model who is one ethnic slur away from her sweatpants line being shut down (Kate Hudson); and a U.S. senator who uses her position to curry favor to her friends (Kathryn Hahn). They, along with Bron’s spurned ex-partner Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monáe), are all there to party and take part in an elaborate murder mystery game; as you can guess, more murder happens than what is planned.

For as off-kilter as the movie is to start, the first 45 minutes feel somewhat predictable, like a puzzle we’ve already cracked. As it goes on, plot threads keep being pulled in different, unexpected directions, and characters act outside of the norms set up for them. It helps when you have a cast that’s absolutely top-notch across the board, all completely game to follow Johnson in whatever direction his heart desires.
click to enlarge Three women in stylish, summery outfits sit on pool lounge chairs.
Photo: John Wilson/Netflix
Much like its predecessor, Glass Onion delivers some legitimately funny gags, from a joke about sweatshops to Bautista basically acting out what would happen if the Liver King wanted to transition into a news anchor role at OAN.

But the film never loses sight of the satire that drove Johnson’s desire to produce Knives Out, to the point that the central message is so eerily of the moment that it feels like it was re-written last month. The obsession with and reverence for perceived genius, the desire to put stupidity on a pedestal, the need for a hero in a world of unbridled selfishness — these are the ideas that are really at play amongst clever misdirects and influencer jokes. This is a movie that knows what it is, and how to get every last possible drop out of that.

Find Glass Onion in select theaters through Tue., Nov. 29. The film will stream on Netflix beginning Dec. 23.