Daniel Craig’s detective returns – in an Oscar-worthy line of nautical romper wear – The Irish Times

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Director: Ryan Johnson

Cert: 12A

Starring: Daniel Craig, Ed Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom jnr, Jessica Henwick, Ethan Hawke, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Madelyn Cline

Running Time: 2 hours 21 minutes

Of all the victims of postmodernism, it is the murder mystery that has been the most ruthlessly twisted in upon itself. Over recent years we have enjoyed Selena Gomez nosing around Manhattan in Only Murders in the BuildingSaoirse Ronan excavating Agatha Christie tropes in See How They Run and – “I’m sure you’re wondering why I called you all here” – Daniel Craig camping the creole in Rian Johnson’s smash hit Knives Out.

Each offers puzzles worth solving. Each has its moments of raw emotion. But they are all essentially ironic deconstructions of conventions established during the interwar golden age of detective fiction. It is hard to play it straight any more. Even those Branagh things are pointedly aware of their own absurdity.

Nobody will mistake Glass Onion for satire. Its nods towards currently unavoidable messianic billionaires – you can think of at least one, I’m sure – are little more than decoration on this expensive, purring metamystery machine

Clearly convinced that the ongoing megapastiche has legs, Netflix forked out a scarcely believable $469 million – about €450 million – for the rights to two Knives Out sequels. Learning from Christie’s habit of sending a bunch of ghastly suspects down the Nile or up the Orient Express, this second episode takes such a vulgar shower to a squillionaire’s island some quiet miles from the Greek mainland.

Kathryn Hahn is an argumentative candidate for the United States Senate. Kate Hudson is an intellectually underwhelming model turned fashion designer. Dave Bautista is a men’s-rights twit who (Chekhovian firearm alert!) carries an automatic pistol at all times. Leslie Odom jnr is a scientist of some genius.

The film’s mildly spiky satirical purpose becomes clearer when we are introduced to the owner of the luxuriously appointed land mass. Ed Norton’s Miles Bron is the sort of solipsistic tech bro who sincerely believes that trousering $1 billion while not wearing a tie makes you a “disrupter”. Johnson’s screenplay has fun taking the old friends back to their badly coiffed youth and confirming they are no keener on shaking up the capitalist system than the average golfing banker is.

Nobody will, however, mistake Glass Onion for a work of satire. The nods towards currently unavoidable messianic billionaires – you can think of at least one, I’m sure – are little more than decoration on the expensive, purring metamystery machine. Early cameos that I won’t spoil place Glass Onion firmly in the great tradition. (One such points towards a 1973 cinematic oddity that hasn’t yet gathered the cult it deserved.)

Craig’s hugely enjoyable performance as Benoit Blanc briefly offers commentary on the convention that has the detective – Peter Falk’s Columbo is the perfect example – play the fool to lure the suspects into incriminating errors. Benoit, here apparently confirmed as gay, will give them “some of that southern hokum to put them off guard”.

There are, you see, constructs within constructs here. Even the title is nudging the viewer. Glass Onion is the name of the bar where Bron and the suspects first made friends and of a literally glassy area of ​​his mansion. But a blast of the Beatles song reminds us that John Lennon loaded it with creative misdirection such as the “Walrus was Paul”. Just as the script does.

For all that self-aware fuss, Glass Onion works darn well as a mystery romp. It is a little smooth to the touch, but there are beautiful chicanes along the route to a satisfyingly clamorous conclusion. We are not giving much away when we applaud the film for daring to have Benoit begin his “final” summation about halfway through a long feature. Janelle Monáe is particularly strong in a role that proves more demanding than the opening scenes promise. The production design and costumes are gorgeous, demanding Oscar nominations alone for Benoit’s line in nautical romper wear.

Indeed, Glass Onion is attractive enough to demand a viewing in the cinema before it progresses to Netflix. One can then watch again to check if the film misdirected us as blatantly as a first viewing suggests. That is how we now watch.

Glass Onion is released in cinemas today; it will be available to stream on Netflix from December 23rd

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