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MOVIES (LFF 2022): Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - Review

There are few directors who are able to respond to critisism as well as Rian Johnson, and there are fewer that are able to subvert expectations as well as Johnson - it's the man who gave us The Last Jedi; would you expect anything less from a sequel? Taking cues from Agatha Christie herself this film borrows liberally from Evil Under the Sun and other whodunits of its era in favour of a movie that like Christie herself, is very in touch with the modern age - this feels like the most 2020s movie yet - a permanently online film in a way that will either age really badly or be a time capsule into the height of the pandemic - we open with Daniel Craig's Benoit Blanc, the world's greatest detective, in London, playing Among Us in a bath that he has not left for days, when a mysterious message in a puzzle box arrives with an invitation for him to a billionaire's island that plays host to an escape-room esque series of games created by Gillian Flynn. But Blanc quickly finds out that the island's host, Edward Norton's Miles Bron - did not invite him; and that someone else has summoned him there - one of Miles' guests, his closest friends - who all have a reason to want him dead.

And so, the game - is naturally afoot. Just like Knives Out Johnson is able to assemble a dream cast who I had the pleasure of attending a press conference to hear speak after the film - Daniel Craig is the only returning member from the first film but Norton, Dave Bautista, Janelle MonĂ¡e, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Jessica Henwick, Leslie Odom Jr. and Madelyn Cline are all our suspects - anyone of them could've arrived with malicious intent and this is why the film has somewhat of a slow start, it explains the reasoning behind each of their motives in turn giving you cause to suspect everyone. The film manages to be incredibly unpredictable from the first frame to the last - you're constantly left guessing and each character is fully formed. Hahn plays a politician worried about her image yet is not above jetting off to Greece in the middle of a pandemic, Odom Jr. plays a tech whizz, Norton is the Elon Musk-stand in who in every frame is modelled after a different tech billionaire, one frame Bezos the next Jobs - amazing attention to costume design is played so that in every frame there is a new detail - multiple rewatches are practically a necessarily. Each frame adds character and Johnson has so carefully planned this one that it comes together brilliantly - not unlike say, the structure of Soderbergh's Ocean's Twelve. The motives are all believable and convincing; the murder is creative - and the puzzle a success.

Johnson has achieved what Branagh could not and has made a much more faithful Agatha Christie homage - there are no lengthy prologues devoted to a moustache here. The production design and editing is top notch - this thing looks like a million dollars and it's a shame that the thing is going to be watched by many people at home without a cinema viewing experience, but equally it's the kind of film that would cater well to rewatches at home - designed to be dissected. The meta jokes are gloriously fun and creative and the film is so aware of the moment that it takes place in - going from the timelessness of Knives Out to an in-the-moment force of nature of Glass Onion can initially feel a bit jarring, but like every Johnson film - it'll get better the more time removed from it. The social commentary is so effective there is no director better at understanding the online world and the age of the internet; and this is a movie that is like the first film - far more than just its surprises.

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