“I’ve learned through bitter experience that an anonymous invitation is not to be trifled with.”
“Now, I can handle a Matisse in the bathroom, but is that a fax machine?”
“It’s a dangerous thing, to mistake speaking without thought as speaking the truth. Don’t you think?” [yes, this movie’s dialog is so fun, I couldn’t choose a single quote. So, my top 3.]
Genre I’d put it in: Fun Mystery Sequels
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Part of the Knives Out movie universe/series/whatever
Gist: Hey, it’s 2022! Life is great, if you’re into lockdown. But 1%’er Miles Bron decides to host a little party on his private island in Greece, inviting his small “pod” of friends he’s known before any of them made it big. Meanwhile, detective extraordinaire Benoit Blanc is bored out of his gourd, and is hoping for some fun, when a mysterious invitation arrives on his doorstep. Fun, excess, and tons of secrets await… And oh wait, is someone actually dead? Uh oh.
Gotta say: As with most sequels, there’s the inevitable comparison between the two. So lemme make it clear; Onion is much more compelling, and downright fun, than the original. This new cast is just as talented as the first cast, but there’s a subtlety to Onion that wasn’t there in Out, which tried too hard to be…mysterious and twisty. Plus, the usual twists and turns of this genre has a lighter, more interesting, vibe. The motives feel more intrinsic to the lives and world the characters live in, than the “we all hate each other but love money” simplistic motives of Out. It’s a much better, more entertaining, story that Out, and I enjoyed the hell outta that.
The cast works together perfectly, and I cannot resist a film where the performers are as excited to ham it up as I am to watch ’em do it. Janelle Monáe is perfection, as always. (And I need to raid the costume closet for what Monáe and Kate Hudson wear this movie right the hell now.) Edward Norton plays Miles as the penultimate Elon Musk-meets-Mark Zuckerberg-meets-New Age weirdo richboy, and his “I can buy anything so I don’t care about anything” meh de vivre grounds the overarching mystery. Who wouldn’t want to kill this douche? As the gang from way back Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., and Dave Bautista made me believe that their characters had been friends (or frenemies) for decades. Jessica Henwick and Madelyn Cline are the poor beleaguered assistant and girlfriend that got pulled into the mix. Daniel Craig’s Blanc is our mystery solving Everyman here, trying his best to suss out who knows what, and who wants to do their worst. These performers make the most of Rian Johnson’s screenplay, with snippets of humanity (okay, make that understandable self-absorption) layered in.
The cheeky way many of the shots are blocked – sometimes quite literally – are a joy, and add to the witty feel of this film without being fussy. Add in the name dropping these characters do, and cameos scattered here and there like unexpected party favors, and the film doesn’t let up on the unapologetic chaos of entertainment for one moment. This modern day Agatha Christie is an absolute hoot, especially the obligatory “here’s what happened” scenes, capped off with a climax that’s almost too over-the-top, but manages to be delightful til the last. Onions have layers, and so does Onion. Writer/director Johnson wants you to have fun with this one. And I did.
Come for: Curiosity over this sequel
Stay for: The happiness that comes from realizing this sequel is better than the original.