‘Knives Out 3’ Is Coming (!), and It Has a Name

knives out
‘Knives Out 3’ Is Coming (!), and It Has a NameNetflix

UPDATE: Calling all Daniel Craig-heads: Soon the fifty-six-year-old actor will reprise his role as the iconic Detective Benoit Blanc in Wake Up Dead Man: A Knives Out Mystery. This is the third (!) Knives Out extravaganza, but who’s counting? Netflix just released a teaser complete with mysterious narration. “In the beginning, the knives came out,” says Blanc. “Then, behold, the glass was shattered. But my most dangerous case yet is about to be revealed.” What does that mean? Judging from the title, it appears as if Blanc will have to deal with a dead body—but then again, doesn’t he always? Netflix isn’t ready to reveal the goods just yet, but the streamer has given us another clue. Wake Up Dead Man: A Knives Out Mystery will arrive sometime in 2025. Below, revisit our 2022 review of Glass Onion, in which Max Cea speculates on the future of the franchise.

These days, it doesn’t take a world-class detective to figure out what makes a hit movie. The clues all point to one culprit: IP. In 2022, the box office was yet again dominated by the sort of films that give Martin Scorsese agita. Of the top ten worldwide earners this past year, all ten were products of franchises—and nine of those ten were sequels. (The one that wasn’t? The Batman.) Sequel fatigue would be understandable...if it were real. But sadly, what the majority of moviegoers seem to want most is what they know. And, by the way, the landscape isn’t much better domestically, where Elvis was the only “original” that managed to sneak into the top ten.

In this sequel-saturated world, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, now streaming on Netflix, takes a relatively refreshing approach. As the title’s lack of a numeral suggests, Rian Johnson is uninterested in world-building. Rather, Knives Out’s mode is anthology, with each film designed not so much to be the next part of the story but rather as one piece in a collection. Glass Onion drops us into an entirely different locale (Greece), retaining only one character (Daniel Craig’s celebrity detective Benoit Blanc) and the series’ core convention (the murder mystery). There’s enough familiarity to attract the masses, but also ample space for Johnson to mix things up within his established framework.

That push and pull is exactly what makes Glass Onion so enjoyable. It also, likely, has contributed to the film’s enormous success in its limited theatrical run. (In late November, Glass Onion spent a single week in six hundred theaters, earning $15 million, which translates to a whopping $25,000 per theater.) Johnson is able to retain the foundational aspects that made the first Knives Out popular—Blanc’s daffy genius, a grand ensemble, and vigorous plotting—while packing some neat surprises, too. Glass Onion is comfort food, cooked in a new way. Or, more to the point: with shiny new tools.

In Glass Onion, everything is bigger, brighter, and flashier. The film sends Benoit Blanc to a private island in Greece, where a tech mogul named Miles Bron (Ed Norton) has put together an elaborate murder-mystery party—with help from none other than Gillian Flynn—to entertain his inner circle over a long weekend. While the film’s plot is meticulously engineered to keep you on your toes, the cast of characters this time around is rather predictable. Johnson has pivoted from Old Money New England patricians to New Money shysters. We meet bro-baiting influencers (Dave Bautista and Madelyn Cline), a brash politician (Kathryn Hahn), a loose-lipped fashionista (Kate Hudson), and a compromised scientist (Leslie Odom Jr.). Or, as they prefer to be called: “disruptors.”

Yes, you’ve seen these types mocked in other recent “eat the rich” satires. Sure, Glass Onion could be seen to suffer from the same problems as many of those films—it leans on well-trod tropes, and its class critique cuts about as deep as a bread knife. But it’s the most irresistibly charming of the bunch, in part because the tone is so consistently playful, never offering a pretense of actual savagery.

Glass Onion, too, is abundant with the resources of a successful sequel. Like Miles Bron, Big Tech (Netflix, in this case!) has equipped Johnson with an embarrassment of riches. He makes sport out of inserting A-list cameos. Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Natasha Lyonne, and the late Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury play Among Us with Blanc over Zoom. Yo-Yo Ma happens to be at a party with Kate Hudson’s Birdie Jay when she receives her puzzle-box invite to the weekend getaway. (Who better to explain a fugue?) Ethan Hawke, theoretically playing a character, shows up for about two minutes to zap any latent Covid out of the guests’ mouths. And Hugh Grant is subtly revealed to be Blanc’s life partner. There’s a degree to which Johnson is flexing with all the fame, but it fits within the film: There’s nothing the mega-rich crave more than proximity to celebrities.

glass onion a knives out mystery 2022 janelle monae as andi cr john wilsonnetflix 2022
Will we see Janelle Monáe’s Andi again? (Rian Johnson, please say yes.)Netflix

And it’s not just big-name gets, either. Johnson has his fun with the bad taste of the nouveau riche. When the group’s boat arrives at the island, they’re met by a glass dock rising out of the water, as if it leads to a secret spy base. Bron’s mansion, which features a glass-onion top, is decorated with the tacky maximalism of a spoiled fourteen-year-old. (Or, you know, an actual billionaire). And in one of the best gags of the film, what appears to be a pre-taped home workout program led by Serena Williams on a fitness device turns out to be the actual Serena Williams live in a scheduled video session. It’s the sort of stuff you can only pull off in an established and well-financed sequel.

But Johnson’s expensive bits of showmanship aren’t merely shallow stunts. They help build the characters and advance the story. When you get close to the glass facade, you notice all the cracks. Things break, revealing Bron’s riches to be of poorer quality than they seem—and Bron to be an unreliable caretaker. And despite Bron’s spending a lofty sum orchestrating the murder-mystery game for his guests, Blanc is able to solve it in a matter of seconds. The point Johnson’s making with the film isn’t profound, but apparently it can’t be said loudly enough: The self-styled disruptors of the world are, in Blanc’s words, “idiot[s].” And their stupid money, fun as it seems, is, well, stupid.

The remaining puzzle for Knives Out is an existential one. Now that Johnson has inflated his sequel to epic proportions, what does he do for Knives Out’s next act? In Glass Onion, the director got away with enjoying his wealth and having it, too. But if audiences haven’t already consumed all the rich they can eat, they seem to be nearing their breaking point. I sure am! Far be it from me to instruct a master puzzle maker like Johnson on how to craft his next mystery. That said, I hope that with the next Knives Out, Johnson does what Glass Onion’s characters couldn’t: truly, authentically disrupt.

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