Glass Onion

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Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion (2022), the much anticipated sequel to Knives Out (2019), reiterates the filmmaker’s low opinion of his audience. Not only does Johnson belabor every significant clue ad nauseam but his heroic detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) dismisses the case and the villain (Edward Norton) of the piece as “stupid”. Blanc’s unkind words are in reaction to Norton’s Elon Musk inspired character Miles Bron’s lack of verbal eloquence and decision to kill a man by exploiting his severe allergy.

First off, Miles Bron’s command of the english language is about average for anyone raised with english as a first language. We all misspeak often enough to know that this doesn’t necessarily make someone “stupid”. Secondly, murdering someone by activating their life threatening allergy is a brilliant stroke of plausible deniability. So why does Benoit Blanc maintain that the plot of the film and its antagonist are “stupid”?

As he did with Knives Out, Johnson uses the humor (though one could hardly call it satirical) in Glass Onion to strut his politically progressive ideologies around for the audience. Johnson wants the viewer to applaud his woke stance and condemn the white privilege and wealth of Edward Norton’s “stupid” character. The fact that Glass Onion has all the nuance and characterization of a game of Clue played by five year olds is of little consequence to the filmmaker. Johnson knows, and so does Netflix, that we are all “stupid” anyway and its enough that Johnson coddles our liberal preconceptions. Which, of course, totally ignores the fact that Johnson’s wealth and privilege is more akin to that of Miles Bron’s than that of the average Netflix subscriber.

If Benoit Blanc is unimpressed with the mystery in Glass Onion that’s entirely Johnson’s fault as a screenwriter. However, as a director, Johnson is equally inept and gets nothing but wooden performances out of one of the most impressive ensemble casts of the year. Sure, the island locale is pretty but Johnson doesn’t seem to know how to convey the space visually within the image complex of the film. All Johnson can do is to hurry his film along as quickly as possible while simultaneously making Glass Onion as long as he can in a cinematic paradox for the ages.

Setting Janelle Monáe’s fabulous outfits aside, the one interesting thing to happen in Glass Onion is the cameo by Hugh Grant. When Grant shows up it is suggested that he is Daniel Craig’s significant other. It’s the one subtle moment in the entire film and the only time, in both Knives Out and Glass Onion, that Benoit Blanc begins to appear remotely human. That said, it’s unlikely that Johnson’s next two sequels will actually explore this aspect of the character or do anything else remotely interesting.