As a journalist, I’m presupposed to let you know all the things I can find out about a subject. But with regards to the brand new movie “Glass Onion,” which premiered on the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday night, I’d moderately tread calmly as a substitute.
For a clue as to why, I present the movie’s full title: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” Yes, this film isn’t some Beatles-inspired riff but a sequel to the twisty 2019 romp “Knives Out,” which introduced Daniel Craig because the drawling detective Benoit Blanc. And upfront of his film’s premiere, the director Rian Johnson sent out an announcement imploring the press to not spoil it.
“There are some big surprises beyond who dies and whodunit, the preservation of which really do affect the experience of a primary viewing,” Johnson wrote. “Thanks upfront for helping to preserve those for audiences.”
In terms of educating Times readers, I’ve all the time tried to adopt a no-spoilers policy, but people’s standards on this matter vary: Recently, once I wrote a couple of romantic comedy and mentioned that the 2 leads kiss — the equivalent of somebody getting slashed in a slasher — Twitter users reacted as if I’d leaked government secrets.
So below, although I’m endeavoring to avoid spoilers, I’ll clearly mark what I’m about to let you know so which you can resolve just how much you’d prefer to peel this “Glass Onion” upfront.
The Setup (Without Spoiling the Murder)
As in the primary movie, Blanc is summoned to a gathering of wealthy eccentrics to unravel a mystery. But this time around, there hasn’t been a killing — yet.
As a substitute, self-involved billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) has sent invitations out to an eclectic group of his confidantes that summon them to his private island in Greece, ostensibly to flee Covid protocols (the movie takes place, with some surprising specificity, in the summertime of 2020) but additionally to playact in a fun murder-mystery scenario he’s cooked up. After Blanc gets situated, Bron confesses that he hadn’t sent the detective an invite to the party, so the initial mystery is who did.
After which there’s a bigger, more meta query: Will the movie follow Blanc’s unraveling of the fictional murder mystery Bron has devised, or will an actual one occur that demands much more of the detective’s keen eye?
The Characters (Without Spoiling the Villain)
Craig is the one forged holdover from the unique film, and on the Q&A following the “Glass Onion” premiere, Johnson cracked, “I’m going to maintain making these until Daniel blocks me on his phone.”
So no, there’s no return appearance from Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, or any of the “Knives Out” kooks, but the brand new group is a well-cast bunch. Foremost amongst them is Kate Hudson, who’s having a blast as a party-more, think-less influencer; Johnson has said that he partly modeled this sequel on the 1973 mystery “The Last of Sheila,” and Hudson is totally meant to be its over-poured Dyan Cannon.
There’s also Kathryn Hahn as a politician bankrolled by Bron, Leslie Odom Jr. as a star scientist, and Dave Bautista (in tiny swim-shorts that may put Craig’s “Casino Royale” trunks to shame) as a gun-toting men’s-rights activist. After which there’s a mysterious Janelle Monáe, who plays a company partner pushed out by Bron’s overweening avarice. She skulks around this private island, serving looks but saying little, like a gun you may’t wait to go off.
The Response (Without Spoiling the Surprises)
“Glass Onion” has been pretty well-received in Toronto, with several reviews echoing The Hollywood Reporter, which called the sequel “more pleasing in most respects (and neck-and-neck in most others)” compared with the unique. Variety was a little bit less enthused, but even that review noted how much greater this seems than the 2019 film, and you may feel that increased budget with regards to the outrageous production design of Bron’s island mansion, which features the movie’s titular object in essentially the most eye-popping way.
The unique “Knives Out” was a tidy hit, making $165 million domestically and nearly doubling that worldwide, but Johnson opted to depart his original distributor Lionsgate and take the franchise to Netflix, which shelled out quite handsomely to land “Glass Onion” and one other sequel. That the streamer would pay $450 million for the package indicates how eager Netflix is to have a movie series on par with its buzzier television offerings, but “Glass Onion” still plays best in a crowded theater, and the audience on the raucous Toronto premiere cheered every cameo and twist.
The film is due for a streaming debut in December, but Netflix executives have indicated they’re exploring an advance theatrical run that’s significantly more robust than the obligatory, Oscar-qualifying empty houses they typically book. Could that be an advantageous recent model for the currently cost-cutting streamer? It hardly takes a detective to know that on the box office, they’d make a killing.