Glass Onion: Rian Johnson proves himself the heir to Agatha Christie’s great legacy

Kate Hudson has something to confess.

The star of fan favourites including How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Almost Famous and Bride Wars possibly hasn’t been as excited about her films as you were. Or, at least, she wasn’t as excited about them as she was excited about Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

“I’ve only really had that a couple of times in my career, if I’m being honest,” Hudson told

“There are movies that I’ve done where I can’t wait to play a couple of scenes or I’m excited to work with certain people, but rarely do I get that giddy feeling of, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to work with Rian [Johnson] and all of these people and play this part – and be in Greece!’

“This was going to be such a blast, and it really was. It exceeded my expectations. And the same thing happened when we saw the movie.”

Glass Onion can indeed inspire giddiness.

Writer and director Rian Johnson’s follow-up to the successful Knives Out, Glass Onion is an immensely fun sequel, transporting Daniel Craig’s gentleman detective Benoit Blanc to the glistening seductions of the Mediterranean.

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Set on a private island in Greece, the mystery gathers a group of friends with as many resentments as they have secrets, all guests of a tech billionaire played by Edward Norton. The glittering cast also includes Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Leslie Odom Jr and Jessica Henwick.

It’s a pacy, compulsive murder mystery, one with a clever plot, a ridiculously smart structure and well-observed characters motivated by selfish desires, fear and an urgent need to be relevant.

Netflix bet big on Johnson, to the tune of $US469 million for the rights to two sequels, and if Glass Onion is anything to go by, that’s a deal that will pay out.

While Craig’s star power or the idea of cementing Knives Out as a franchise would’ve been alluring enough, what Netflix really bought was Johnson, and his prodigious brain and intense love for Agatha Christie.

Johnson initially felt the pressure of the sequels – it really was so much money – but once he got into the process of working out new ways to surprise audiences, the “nerve-racking” stress disappeared.

“I like to say these movies have to be rollercoaster rides, not crossword puzzles,” he told “I always try to remember that first and foremost, it’s a movie that the audience is going to experience in a linear fashion.

“They’re not going to zoom back looking at a big map of all the clues. They’re going to be walking through a haunted house tunnel, and things jump out at them.

“So, trying to keep it on track and trying to keep the information doled out in a way where it’s always in the context of a story they’re actually engaged in.

“I want the audience to be having so much fun on the ride they forget they’re supposed to be solving something. And then at the end, it’s like a pleasant surprise when that comes back around.”

The original Knives Out earnt Johnson an Oscar nomination for original screenplay, as well as the enthusiasm of top-notch players who desperately wanted in on Glass Onion.

Hahn said she was willing to do whatever it took to be involved, especially after she read the script.

“I thought I was ahead of the script and, of course, I was not. At every turn of the page, I was like, ‘Oh, he’s going to pull it off again, I don’t know how but he’s going to pull it off again.’

“And I had that same feeling when I saw it for the first time, the same flutter and feeling of wonder. I don’t think I’ve had that feeling of excitement to make a movie in a long time.”

It’s Johnson’s ability to straddle the old and the new that propels Knives Out and Glass Onion to great heights. It’s the familiarity of a Christie-esque mystery with the twist of the contemporary.

The filmmaker has never hidden his deep love for Christie’s work, repeatedly citing the icon’s writing as the inspiration for this whole venture. It’s what gave him the confidence to move from the cosy manor house to the brash private island, taking with him only Craig’s Benoit Blanc.

“The one thing [Christie] did, book-to-book was she completely flipped it up,” he gushed. “You were getting a completely different deal with every new book, and that meant setting, characters and story.

“She was bringing in different genres, flipping the script and subverting your expectations.”

Johnson wanted Glass Onion to be different to Knives Out in the same way that The Mysterious Affair at Styles was different to Death on the Nile.

It’s also a declaration to audiences that each Knives Out movie would be a new adventure, varied in tone and style. And just like Hercule Poirot, Blanc would be an explorer in each of these new worlds.

Johnson described Blanc as being half-Jacques Tati and half-Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, both seemingly bumbling and ultra-dashing. You can see it in Blanc’s physical comedy and that blue-striped seersucker swimming outfit which recalls Monsieur Hulot’s sartorial choice when on holidays, and Grant’s debonair charm.

This is a character you want to follow from film-to-film.

As Glass Onion was about to ramp up into production, Johnson started posting on social media about The Last of Sheila, a yacht-set whodunit with a screenplay by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim.

It’s easy to see the inspiration he drew from the film, as well as the Peter Ustinov-starring Evil Under the Sun and Death on the Nile.

“There’s something about the exotic, beautiful locale,” he said. “It’s also great because you get a group of people who are in a place that’s foreign to them, and isolated, which is a great formula for a good murder mystery.”

It would be folly to doubt Johnson’s sincere love for the genre, it’s steeped in every frame of these two films.

It’s also in his casting of Sondheim and Angela Lansbury in cameo appearances – when they appear on screen, it’s bittersweet. It was both their final onscreen appearances – Sondheim died in November 2021 and Lansbury in October 2022.

Rian said he didn’t want to sound like a broken record, but he really could not pass up giving Christie all due credit when asked if Glass Onion and Knives Out aren’t changing the form, maybe even just a little bit.

“When you subvert the genre, you are imitating Christie in the most direct way,” he said, still bowing down to the grand dame of murder mysteries.

It’s that unadulterated love of Christie and her works coupled with his own imagination and filmmaking nous which makes Johnson the heir to her legacy.

Surely that’s worth at least $US469 million.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is streaming on Netflix from Friday, December 23 at 7pm AEDT

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