This review is part of our coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.
The Pitch: Famous Southern detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), whom we first met in the 2019 flick Knives Out, is in a pandemic-induced funk when he receives an invitation from eccentric billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) to his next big case in Greece.
There, on a remote island, Bron’s closest friends and “disrupters” congregate for a murder mystery party at his Glass Onion house — a spot so lavish even the Mona Lisa is there, on loan from the Louvre. There’s former model-turned-fashion-designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), controversial social media star Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), brilliant scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), right-wing politician Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), and Bron’s spurned former partner, Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monáe).
What begins as a game quickly turns deadly, and it’s up to Blanc — and audiences — to solve the case. If this all sounds familiar that’s because it is: director and writer Rian Johnson was inspired by director Herbert Ross’s 1973 movie The Last of Sheila.
Twisting Tropes: Just like in Knives Out, Johnson is intent on turning every whodunnit trope on its head in Glass Onion, all while injecting the film with satirical social commentary. Each character is crafted as a parody of some current issue: Birdie can’t help herself from tweeting racist things, Duke is walking toxic masculinity, Claire is the quintessential high-powered politician with a hidden agenda, and even Bron is a name-dropping billionaire whose lifestyle is a slap in the face to anyone without.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that each actor embodies their roles and carefully crafted idiosyncrasies like a Clue board come to life. (And yes, there are definitely Clue references in this movie.) It’s an all-star ensemble to rival that of the first film, and each character is uniquely conceived and intriguing on their own.
Together, this friend group is what Bron calls his “disrupters,” although under the surface they all owe something to their billionaire buddy. Few of the characters are likeable, although some, like the onion analogy the movie so fondly embraces, become entirely more relatable as you peel back those layers. Money, the cost of wealth, the price of keeping it and what people will do when their comfort is challenged round out the complex themes, all of which this movie so deftly handles with comedy rather than condescension.