Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece for his latest case.
From the return of Daniel Craig to the addition of someone like Edward Norton, this is easily one of the best ensembles of the year, and the acting delivers on a level that everyone should expect it to. Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, and Janelle Monáe are the other notable standouts, especially Monáe because of what she is having to do. Rian Johnson is back and better than ever when it comes to his direction. Other than the first 15 minutes, this is his most impressive outing behind the camera, as he handles a complex narrative with ease. His ability to bring actors down a notch when necessary is impressive, and the visuals are on point. Even the massive cgi-filled third act looks great compared to other Netflix blockbusters. It may not have been necessary to make this story that big, but the film handles this scale well. Where Johnson doesn’t quite match his efforts from the first is within the screenwriting. This overarching story feels a bit more messy than that of the first, especially in the first act. The opening where our characters are solving puzzles is unfunny, slightly awkward, and a bit all over the place. Thankfully, the second our characters gather together is when the film immediately picks up.
The banter is spectacular, so the issue is less the dialogue and more the trajectory of the story. I’m not normally the best at figuring out where this type of story goes, but I found it to be obvious from the beginning. There is one massive twist along the way that no one will see coming, and that twist helped switch things up, but the endgame feels too obvious from the start. Daniel Craig is spectacular here; his character in Blanc isn’t as subtle or mysterious as the first, but he leans into exactly what we loved about him in the first film. His clashes with this new crew are the best part of this experience, and each individual relationship feels authentic. Where the film takes the next step is how it ties everything together around halfway through. There is a series of scenes that revisit moments we have already seen, and the way this is all weaved together is beyond creative. Even if it is hard to buy this group of drastically different individuals as friends, their conversations make for some hilarious moments. In the end, I personally prefer the simplicity and more subtle approach of the first. Glass Onion occasionally gets in its own way, but without comparing to the first, this is a great watch. The cast is top-notch, and the storytelling structure is creative enough to keep viewers invested until the end.