A star rating of 4 out of 5.

"Look into the clear centre of the Glass Onion," we’re asked during Rian Johnson’s tremendous crowd-pleasing sequel to his 2019 whodunnit Knives Out, which starred Daniel Craig as the gentlemanly detective Benoit Blanc. The Glass Onion is the ovular, see-through home belonging to Miles Bron (Edward Norton), the billionaire founder of tech giant company Alpha, who has built this modernist monstrosity on his private Greek island. He is inviting a group of high-rolling friends for a weekend centred around a murder mystery game he has constructed; a game that will have deadly consequences.


Of course, Bron’s Glass Onion residence is also a not-so-subtle nod to the layers and layers that will need to be peeled back to get to the bottom of Johnson’s fiendish mystery. At the dock, ready to be jetted over in Bron’s super-yacht, are fashion model Birdie (Kate Hudson), a former cover girl on The Face; the forward-thinking Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr), a scientist who works for Bron; Duke (Dave Bautista), a tattoo-clad, muscled-up YouTube influencer; and Claire (Kathryn Hahn), an ambitious governor running for the Senate.

Perhaps more shocking to all is the arrival of Andi (Janelle Monáe), Bron’s ex-partner. Together with Birdie’s assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) and Duke’s girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), this posse of "disruptors", as Bron likes to call them, all arrive to sample his lavish hospitality. But something is off. Why has Benoit Blanc also been invited? He has no connection to his host, unlike the others, and even Bron is mystified by his arrival. Still, he’s a super sleuth, Bron reasons, and an excellent addition to his game. While the object is for his guests to seek out the identity of Bron’s 'murderer', soon enough there’s going to be a real death on their hands.

If Knives Out was about old money, centred on the deadly squabbles in a Massachusetts family, this follow-up is more about the nouveau riche – with Johnson taking great pains to mercilessly rib all that "rich a**hole s**t", as Bron puts it. He’s a man who will strum The Beatles' Blackbird on the actual guitar Paul McCartney wrote it on, before dumping it without a thought. He also keeps his insanely expensive sports car, pointlessly, on a rooftop perch on the Glass Onion, simply because there’s no road to drive it on around the island.

Set during the pandemic, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery begins with characters wearing masks and even sees a cameo from a pony-tailed Ethan Hawke, as Bron's assistant, administering them with a mysterious shot. It won’t be the last time advance/fantasy technology makes an appearance, in a dense and on-the-nose story that is adeptly paced. It's smart, but not so smart you can’t follow.

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Craig once again delights as Blanc, seemingly having a lot more fun as this Sherlock Holmes-like genius than he ever had playing James Bond. The remainder of the cast follow suit, with musician/rapper Janelle Monáe revelling in what she’s required to do, while there are also a couple of lovely surprise cameos. If this seems gratuitous, it’s apt for a story where Bron and his buddies are all media-obsessed, living in a world of self-branding and celebrity endorsements (Jeremy Renner's Hot Sauce plays a key role, believe it or not).

Much of this is very, very funny, with Johnson tearing his characters to shreds, from Bautista’s phallically obsessed self-improver to Hudson’s less-than-bright bikini-wearer (even mistaking a Bangladesh sweatshop for a place where sweatpants are manufactured). At the centre of Glass Onion, of course, is a show-stopping mystery, filled with more red herrings than a Cornish trawler. Unfolding as marvellous entertainment orchestrated by Johnson, like the David Bowie track that plays near the end, he’s the Star Man.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will be released in cinemas on 23rd November and launch on Netflix on 23rd December. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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