Written and Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista

Following the triumph of Knives Out, Rian Johnson moved from the guy who ruined Star Wars (not really) to one of the most intriguing directors of modernity. Netflix scored a coup when they nabbed the sequel rights, and the one week theatrical run seemed a miscalculation when the viewers flocked to see it. Then they had to wait a few weeks for release on the streaming service.

The second cinematic mystery starts off with a box of riddles that the invitees – all part of a group of friends called “The Disruptors” – all work to solve together. The solution sends each of them to a private Greek island where Miles Bron (Norton) has built a Glass Onion to represent the bar where they all met and hung out before life made all of them successful, none more than Bron.

So much talk is made of Bron’s genius in the first act, its easy to guess that the billionaire might not be everything he seems. This is especially true for Andi (Monáe), the only invitee that does not seem enamored with Bron or his accomplishments. When Benoit Blanc (Craig) shows up seemingly uninvited the spanner is firmly thrown into the workings of Miles’ weekend retreat.

Even those who want to solve the mystery have to wait until certain layers are peeled from this onion. Though everything should be visibile from the outset, Johnson’s trick of making answers impossible to know is more apparent in the second half of the film. Even so, it’s fun to see the cast ACTING their cheese off.

This includes Craig’s inimitable investigator, accent and all. When he solves Bron’s initial mystery just under the halfway point, we know the real mystery is just around the corner. Of course Blanc sees through this to the real potential motives of each of the Disruptors.

That Glass Onion doesn’t reach the delightful heights of its predecessor is not a surprise. The original was a shot in the arm to an industry overwhelmed with sequels and superhero films. It had the same types of twists, but they are easily compensated with a fantastic cast and the emergence of de Armas as a major star.

This time out Monae gets the same chance as the partner of the famous detective. Her character is not what she seems, and she more than the others has a bone to pick. Her performance is layered and enjoyable It’s the most believable role in a film filled with outlandish caricatures that would work, well, with The Muppets.

That none of the rest of the cast warrants description epitomizes the problem with mystery films with large casts. Most of the characters require a willing suspension of disbelief, even if the performances are in the same spirit of fun that we had in the first film. It doesn’t present anything one might see in real life, but then, that’s why we see movies. Who wants real life?

Even if this is more fun than a mystery, I do prefer the likes of Fincher’s Zodiac. I will take any amount of Benoit Blanc films that Johnson feels like pushing out as long as the acting quality closer to Monae and de Armas than to the rest of the cast in this sequel.

(**** out of *****)

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