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‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Review: One other Clue for You All

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It starts as a game for the amusement of a tech billionaire. Miles Bron, a would-be master of the universe played with knowing exuberance by Edward Norton, invites a small group of friends to a celebration on his private island. The weekend’s entertainment will likely be a make-believe murder mystery, with Miles himself because the victim and focus. By the tip, real homicides have been committed and the fun has develop into democratic, as rank-and-file ticket buyers and Netflix subscribers enjoy themselves on the expense of imaginary members of the economic, political and cultural elite.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” revives the antic, puzzle-crazy spirit of the primary “Knives Out,” which was also written and directed by Rian Johnson. This time the satirical stakes have been raised. Miles Bron is a riper goal with more recognizable real-world analogues than the eccentric novelist played by Christopher Plummer the primary time around. A lone musketeer of disruption, he spouts mantras concerning the glory of “breaking stuff,” and cloaks his bottomless greed and shallow narcissism in showy messianic robes. He’s not only a wealthy guy: He’s a visionary, a genius, an creator of the amazing human future.

Miles’s friends are all bought and paid for: a model-turned-fashion mogul (Kate Hudson); an idealistic scientist (Leslie Odom Jr.); a pumped-up, over-inked men’s rights YouTube influencer (Dave Bautista); and the governor of Connecticut (Kathryn Hahn). The people named in those parentheses have a grand time sending up contemporary archetypes, and are joined within the whodunit high jinks by Madelyn Cline as Bautista’s girlfriend and by Jessica Henwick, quietly stealing scenes as Hudson’s assistant.

Two other guests show up for the murder game, though they don’t appear to be there in the identical hedonistic spirit as the remainder. One is Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monáe), generally known as Andi, Miles’s erstwhile business partner. She is a well-recognized figure in tech mythology, the genius present on the creation who’s forged out by a more ambitious, unscrupulous or media-savvy co-founder. The Eduardo Saverin to Miles’s Mark Zuckerberg, you may say, or possibly the Wozniak to his Jobs.

Andi’s presence on the island is something of a surprise, as is — though to not “Knives Out” fans — the arrival of Benoit Blanc, the world’s biggest detective. Blanc is once more played by a floridly post-Bond Daniel Craig, now sporting an absurd but one way or the other appropriate collection of neckerchiefs and pastel shirts, and speaking in what was once described as a “Kentucky Fried Chicken Foghorn Leghorn” accent. My ear also picks up undertones of Truman Capote and a sprinkling of Adam Sandler’s “Cajun Man” character from “S.N.L.”

A descendant of Lieutenant Columbo, Hercule Poirot and Edgar Allan Poe’s genre-creating C. Auguste Dupin, Blanc is each a diviner of hidden meanings and a master of the plain, the soul of discretion and a hogger of the highlight. He’s uncompromising in matters of taste, ethics and English usage, in addition to a wet-eyed sentimentalist and a person who likes to have a very good time.

In that way, he could also be Johnson’s avatar. A pop-culture savant with technique to spare, Johnson approaches the classic detective story with equal measures of breeziness and rigor. The plot twists and loops, stretching logic to the breaking point while making a show of following the principles. I can’t say much about what happens in “Glass Onion” without making a gift of some surprises, but I can say that a few of the pleasure comes from being unsuitable about what is going to occur next.

Which suggests that, by the tip, when Blanc wraps all of it up and the party disperses, you might feel a little bit let down. That’s in the character of the genre, but as in “Knives Out” Johnson turns the committing and solving of crimes right into a trellis to be festooned with gaudy characters. The core ensemble does what amounts to superior sketch-comedy work, rising enough above caricature to maintain you interested. Monáe goes further, turning what at first looks like the least complex, most serious character into — but I’m afraid if I told you, you would need to kill me.

I also won’t give away any jokes. It’s been some time since I’ve laughed out loud in a movie show, but I did, partly because a whole lot of people around me were laughing, too. (I don’t know if the effect could be the identical watching the movie at home on Netflix.) “Glass Onion” is totally silly, however it’s not only silly. Explicitly set in the course of the worst months of the Covid pandemic — the spring of 2020 — “Glass Onion” leans into recent history without succumbing to gloom, bitterness or howling rage, which is not any small accomplishment. One approach to interpret the title is that a glass onion could also be sharp, and could have a whole lot of layers, however it won’t make you cry.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Rated PG-13. Murder, for laughs. Running time: 2 hours 19 minutes. In theaters.

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