• Release Date: 23/12/2022
  • Platform: Netflix
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista
  • Director: Rian Johnson

I absolutely adored Knives Out (2019) and the wicked mystery that it presented. I loved the subtle situational comedy of it. I loved how the film looked and felt and more than anything, I loved the performances of an eclectic mix of high-profile actors and stars who were somehow organically emulsified to provide a compounded impact and initiated some interesting drama that was not only effective but also gloriously over-the-top. Further, what worked wonders for the film was its thrilling plot and delicious mystery at the core of it that was unpredictable, moody, and serious when it needed to be.

I was expecting a lot more of the same in Glass Onion. It had exactly the same vibes as Knives Out and had an entirely new ensemble cast who were an eclectic mix of high-profile stars and actors like its predecessor. It promised a thrilling murder mystery wherein the one to be murdered invited his friends to take part in solving the mystery of his own murder. The topography wherein the mystery was slated to unfold looked gorgeous and with Rian Johnson directing, I was confident that the mystery would be tense, serious, thrilling, and unpredictable. Alas! how wrong I was about the last few aspects of the film.

Making a mockery of two death and a tragedy: –

There are not one but two deaths in this film and it is not the one that we were led to believe would be in the trailers. Sadly, both these deaths have no impact whatsoever on the psyche of the audiences and the reason for that is simple. Rian Johnson treats these deaths with bewildering insubstantiality. He even goes to the extent of treating them as jokes when his ace detective, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) goes about ripping the layers of the mystery. The murderer in question, who has, by the way, committed both murders, is revealed to be an inefficient nincompoop. By doing that, Rian Johnson does not only insult the intelligence and competence of his protagonist but also that of the audience. The killer behaves and makes such faces when faced with the revelations that it liquidates the last bit of seriousness and quantum of the tragedy that was left; atleast for one character whose motivation to act was based on one of the murders. Add to that the ridiculous things that the characters are shown doing to get even with the killer and you have a film that borders on being a slapstick comedy more than a thrilling whodunit thriller.  

A laughable antagonist: – 

Edward Norton as the primary antagonist is completely wasted. I kept remembering his performance in films like American History X and Primal Fear and how fearsome he could be as an antagonist. Sadly, his character here is written in such a terrible manner that they make a mockery out of everything that he is shown doing. Initially, I thought that he would turn out to be an evil genius and that is the path that Johnson should have taken with his character. Sadly, to surprise and subvert the expectations of the audience, he does something with the character that not only destroys the basis and seriousness of the entire plot but also turns his performance into a practical joke. With the antagonist proving to be a blabbering fool, the rest of the characters and whatever little was left in the plot were rendered ineffective. The film quickly spiraled into being a boring episode of a TV special that had lost its steam halfway through.

No serious threats for the ensemble cast resulting in zero thrills: –

With the director treating everything and every character as a joke, any chance of having any seriousness or thrill in the film is practically lost. Every important character that needs to be safe remains safe throughout and they never come in any kind of danger. Even when they do come against some threat, they are saved by some of the most ridiculous manners thereby further alienating any possible sense of believability or seriousness in the narrative.

Captivating performances from the ensemble cast: –

The ensemble cast of the film is star-studded and every actor including Edward Norton does a fantastic job. It is a different story in that the characters are written so poorly that they leave no impact. The performances cannot be held at fault for that. Kate Hudson is outrageous and sometimes uncontrollably good. Playing a fashion icon who knows very little about the real world, she hits it out of the park with a subtle change of mannerisms and mood between important moments in her essay. Kathryn Hahn as a politician who is torn between what is right and her inability to unshackle herself from the clasps of a powerful businessman is fantastic. She is able to convey her mental state through her mannerisms and it makes for quite a viewing.

Janelle Monae has an extremely important character to play and she does complete justice to the character. The difference in mannerisms and characteristics between the two versions of the same character is huge and she does justice to both versions of the character. She is also someone with whom the script does the least bit of justice and most importantly, she is the axiom on which the entire plot revolves. Thus, her performance was a lot more in focus and she never disappointed with her essay. Dave Bautista has precious little to do but enacts his portions with conviction. Madelyn Cline is wonderful as a character that assumes importance as we move along in the narrative.

Danial Craig as the protagonist is as great as he was in the predecessor. His over-the-top accent and mannerisms that carried forward from the first film are firmly in place and go a long way toward making every scene featuring him interesting, entertaining, and awkwardly funny.

Gorgeous locations and beautiful cinematography: –

I was enthralled by the cinematography of the film. Apart from the performances, it was the only thing that made the film special and made certain scenes rewatchable. The majority of the film unfolds in a palatial castle that has a glass onion as its crown. The cinematographer is able to capture this palace and its adjoining areas with such creativity and beauty that the film ends up looking stunning. It is also a fact that the ensemble cast involved in the film is all stunning in their own ways. They form the perfect contrast with the different aspects of the castle and the other areas serving as the backdrop and resulting in some stunning imagery. This is further elevated by the inherent drama and oomph that each of the actors brings to the fore. Thus, the visuals are elevated by the characters and the magic that they bring with their persona, charm, and performances. The cinematographer understands and utilizes this aspect of the film wonderfully and uses it to his own advantage.   

Final Words: –

Glass Onion has everything that made its predecessor so great. Sadly, its screenplay, its dealing of the subject, and the treatment of the characters are what make this film unthinkably mediocre and ridiculous. The ensemble cast does a fantastic job, the film looks gorgeous throughout, and Danial Craig as Benoit Blanc is in his element but all these aspects cannot cover up for the lack of seriousness, thrill, tension, and a bravura climax.

Rating: 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)

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