Eye-wateringly delicious return to the big screen for Daniel Craig in Glass Onion
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY (12A, 140 mins) Thriller/Comedy/Romance. Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monae, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr, Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline. Director: Rian Johnson.
Released: In cinemas today and streaming on Netflix from December 23
IN Agatha Christie's 1929 short story The Man In The Mist, detective Tommy Beresford astutely observes, “Very few of us are what we seem to be."
Writer-director Rian Johnson heeds those words in his deliciously gnarly and deceptive whodunnit sequel, deftly engineering more than one gasp-inducing twist as his Southern detective Benoit Blanc trades Massachusetts familial strife for avarice and betrayal on a sun-kissed Greek island.
The original Knives Out was a blast, a tongue-in-cheek country house murder mystery that both honoured and distorted genre tropes with a starry A-list cast portraying the rogues' gallery of shadowy suspects.
Glass Onion is an ingenious, self-contained puzzle, which is both funnier and sneakier than its predecessor (and 10 minutes longer) and explicitly references Christie's most popular novels in its clinical dramatic set-up and skilful sleights of hand.
The script is as tight as the dashing blue cravat knotted around Daniel Craig's neck, returning to the fray as the quixotic sleuth who randomly splutters Halle Berry's name when a splash of a hot sauce made by actor Jeremy Renner stages an aggressive assault on his taste buds.
Celebrity name drops and cameos, including the final screen appearance of Dame Angela Lansbury, underline the playful spirit of Johnson's elaborately choreographed dance of death.
The identity of Blanc's live-in lover is amusingly reduced to a glorious throwaway gag in flashback.
Eccentric billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), co-founder of tech giant Alpha, sends ornate puzzle boxes as invitations to a murder mystery-themed party on his private island getaway.
Recipients include Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), Alpha scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr), Miles' former business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monae), social media star Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), politically incorrect fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and Benoit Blanc (Craig).
Duke arrives with girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) in tow while Birdie is shadowed by her exasperated personal assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick).
At dinner on the first night, Miles reveals that he will play the murder victim and cryptic clues hidden around his Aegean paradise can be pieced together to deduce his killer.
The first person to solve the dastardly crime wins.
When the sound of a real gunshot reverberates across the island, Blanc is perfectly positioned to peel back layers of deceit and expose at least one blackened heart.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery goes down as sweetly as the hard kombucha (fermented by Jared Leto), which everyone drinks on Miles's retreat.
Craig and co-stars are clearly having a blast – Norton, in particular, relishes his self-congratulatory corporate titan, who couldn't pour water out of a wellington boot with instructions on the heel.
Johnson flatters and deceives, making mirth from murderous intentions with grand theatrical flourishes.
The knives are out and they cut sweetly to the funny bone.