Rian Johnson: You have subverted my expectations. Again.
Daniel Craig: Good work. Again.
Ok, so KNIVES OUT. I gave the first film a good review. Maybe too good? It was clever. But overlong, slow and basically a whodunnit worthy of your average MIDSOMER MURDERS ep on ITV. Same way everyone kinda overrated GOSFORD PARK?
The sequel? GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY.
New location, motifs, pitch. (Island paradise: murder mystery game goes wrong; Tech Billionaire as target; Benoit to the rescue as everyone has a motive for making the game ‘real’).
Again. It is good. Clever. As in revelations you sort of see coming yet don’t. Structural innovation. Spin on old tropes. Visually striking, verging on stunning and a great cast. GREAT score and use of songs, too. Inspirational craft and thought has been invested here. Good!
Daniel Craig is intriguing as Benoit Blanc, the great detective (an unearned title: just awarded to him, by the script: itself a pastiche feature in this genre).
He’s charming, funny, mysterious and a force for good, via almost childlike curiosity for the human condition and a desire to fight injustice.
Craig is upstaged. Once. For a split second. By THE FUNNIEST, MOST RANDOM CAMEO. EVER. For that, alone? Definitely worth a watch.
- OVERLONG FILM. Seriously. This could have been done, better, in half the time. That’s called pretention. Inefficiency. The bar is now so low on ‘good work’ that nobody will dare notice or complain. Length is fine IF you have lots of action as filler. 😉 This movie does not have that.
- Rian Johnson simply does not ‘get’ pacing. THAT, rather than any motif or ‘subverting expectation’ was why THE LAST JEDI failed, for me. Same here. Great ideas, executed, poorly and indulgently.
- Is this set in the pandemic or not? They mention it, then do not mention it, then sort of mention it, again. Make it a thing or don’t.
- GREAT cast. UNDERUSED. ALL OF THEM.
- Makes you wish that Craig just did another Bond film, with Ed Norton as a tech billionaire evil villain, bent on world domination. Seriously. Why not?
- The location here is very 007 and this is very much a transitional post Bond movie for Daniel. Akin to Harrison Ford trying out Jack Ryan when he thought he was done as Indiana Jones. Or Craig-a-like, John Thaw, making professional of the week ITV bespoke drama between Inspector Morse specials?
- IE: Blanc is not 007. Very much a B List character, trading on the goodwill from another? Just sayin’.
So yes, watch this. But one wonders at this stage why they don’t simply make it as a television series, given its lineage in that format and the need to chop up the action more swiftly.
Especially if you make a big deal of running it on NETFLIX, which is basically, television, right? Think ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (currently being re-run on SKY ARTS: awesome, btw). IE: Short, pithy, punchy, mini movies and still complex/macabre/thought provoking. Maybe use Craig/Blanc to introduce and book-end a series like that?
Just a thought. THAT would subvert expectations. Via being genuinely excellent, rather than simply ‘good’.
For all my caveats, cited? Bizarrely, yes. I look forward to KNIVES OUT 3. But PLEASE make it SHORTER, SIMPLER..and give a bigger role to THAT cameo player. Genius, in itself. You will enjoy this latest effort. Just do not be surprised if you are not ‘wowed’ or nod off a bit in places.
Merry Christmas! May it subvert your expectations and be happy/healthy/fun etc. 😉