In our original review of Knives Out, we lauded Rian Johnson’s ability to craft a film with a thematic message that mattered for the story but didn’t eclipse the pure, whimsical fun of the whodunnit. It was never a given that Knives would get a sequel, much less a trilogy (Netflix ordered the second and third films shortly after the success of the first). But here we are: Glass Onion hit theaters for a limited run last week in advance of the Christmastime release on Netflix, continuing the exploits of Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) as he accepts an invitation to a murder mystery party on a private island in Greece. But does Onion follow suit in couching a timely theme into the breezy fun?
Yes and no — but it’s worth mentioning up front that Onion is indeed a lot of fun, and a looser brand of fun that’s perhaps natural for a sequel. The protagonist is already known to us and the budget, frankly, is far larger, and so Johnson and Co. cut loose from the jump and never really let up. If there is a lack of thematic heft — we’ll dig into that more in a moment — then I didn’t notice it during the film. Glass Onion is more ambitious than Knives Out on almost every level, from the locales to the special effects to the cameos (in Knives Out it was M. Emmet Walsh, here it’s Ethan Hawke, Hugh Grant, Serena Williams, Yo Yo Ma, etc, etc). That ambition may not automatically make Onion a better film, but it’s refreshing to see Johnson and Co. commit so fully to breaking fresh ground rather than try to rebottle that first lightning strike.