Glass Onion Star Edward Norton Explains Why Knives Out Stands Apart From Other Murder Mysteries

When "Knives Out" was first released in theaters in 2019, /Film's review praised it as hilarious, clever, and endlessly entertaining. While the marketing made it seem like an old-fashioned mystery, Rian Johnson's film managed to surpass and subvert expectations with a layered and engaging thriller. Daniel Craig's Benoit Blanc had the unsuspecting demeanor of Columbo and the style and sharpness of Hercule Poirot — a welcome addition that changed the genre in new and exciting ways. And with Benoit Blanc returning in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery," fans are geared up for another murder mystery with a twist.

The contradictory nature of "Knives Out" is part of what makes the film feel so enthralling — the movie feels timeless because of the murder mystery format but also simultaneously uses characters, story points, and cultural references that capture a specific moment in time. Edward Norton — one of many talented actors that are a part of the stacked cast of "Glass Onion" — touched on what exactly makes the "Knives Out" movies stand apart from other murder mysteries, something that's no small feat considering how much the genre has blown up following the first film's release, with shows like "Only Murders in the Building" and the feature, "See How They Run" offering more mysteries for audiences to solve. 

Weaving a mystery into the zeitgeist of the moment

In a roundtable discussion attended by /Film's Ryan Scott, Edward Norton closed out the event by speaking about writer-director Rian Johnson's storytelling ability. Johnson, according to Norton, not only plays with the conventions of the murder mystery genre, but also makes his stories feel timely and relevant to the period in which they were made:

"I think that the reason 'Knives Out' was so much fun is that Rian has done, as he's pointed out, what Agatha Christie was doing, which is actually weaving it into the zeitgeist of the moment. He's found a way to have all the fun of the convention, and the mechanisms, and the traditions, but laced through with jokes about how no one can remember what country Marta's from and an alt-right cousin. I think anything you can see, the times you're living in, and characters who represent the foibles of our moment. And I think in this [movie, 'Glass Onion,'] maybe even more abundantly so."

"Knives Out" hilariously intertwined its unexpected mystery with themes of classism, immigration, and white privilege. The characters never felt out of place or forced, making it feel like Johnson has genuinely found a formula that works — just stick Benoit Blanc with a cast of colorful characters reflective of the current times and issues, and audiences will find a way to stay invested in the story. All that remains to be seen is if "Glass Onion" has an as timely and compelling story as Norton claims. Personally, I can't wait to find out.