Editor’s Note: This review of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” discusses plot twists and endings. If you don’t want spoilers, read the review with caution.
If “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” was just an excuse for the world’s greatest movie actors to hang out on a Greek island and play boisterous characters in ridiculous whodunnit movies, it would have been enough.
While “Glass Onion” certainly grabs attention for its popcorn flick fun and spectacle, it transcends its genre to become a masterpiece of social satire. The movie’s targets include megalomaniac billionaires, corrupt politicians, internet influencers, chatty celebrities, and maybe all of us.
But first, there’s the sheer surface-level delight of “glass onions.” It begins with Benoît Blanc, Daniel Craig’s private investigator, reprising his role from the first “Knives Out” film. I used to watch five-hour cinema verité documentaries about Benoît Blanc doing chores and running errands. Every part of his character is gold: his silly New Orleans-esque accent, his meme-worthy facial expressions of amusement and disgust, his outdated syntax and vocabulary, the 100-year-old parallel he comes from the universe. I feel like Bran is setting the floor pretty high for this “Knives Out” movie or potential sequel.
Like the original “Knives Out,” Craig’s performance is set to a star-studded ensemble cast playing misbehaving rich men. The richest and worst person this time around is Miles Bronn (Edward Norton), a tech billionaire and stand-in for men like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Donald Trump. He talks about “true chaos” and “breakpoints” in pseudo-intellectual business maxims. The film’s social commentary revolves around him.
Bored by the COVID-19 lockdown, Bron summons close friends to his private island for a weekend getaway and an intricate murder-mystery game. Guests who rely on Bronn’s money and influence more than true friends include the governor of Connecticut, a “men’s rights” Twitch streamer, a chief scientist at Bronn’s company and a politically incorrect fashion designer. It will be
Everyone is surprised by the arrival of another person on the island. Bron’s former business partner Andy Brando (Janelle Monae) has caught up to the curb in a lawsuit split. It turns out that the brand has raised safety and ethical concerns about one of Bronn’s new products, a hydrogen-based power source called Klear that Bronn has decided to bring to market soon. It also powers his island compound.)
Bron, who later finds out, was particularly shocked to see Brando.In the film’s shocking central twist, it is revealed that Andy is actually dead. Hiring Bran to arrive on the island is her identical twin, Helen Bland (also played by Monae).
It seems too obvious that the domineering business giant is the villain, but that’s the central point of this film. All the others, those who think they can do nothing wrong because they’re surrounded by zany yes men who want their paydays… well, not so much the movement toward violence in pursuit of self-preservation. It’s not a big leap, is it? ?
After Bronn’s guilt is revealed, there is a temporary hope that the justice system will be able to hold him accountable for his numerous crimes. I know I owe him too much to testify against him in court. You might think of all the ultra-rich who avoided harsh consequences regardless. New York Mets team owner Steve Cohen is suspected of insider trading. Wall Street CEOs in the subprime mortgage era, etc.
Bookish Helen suddenly transforms into a vigilante when the system proves to be powerless against Bronn. She destroys Bronn’s glass statue and uses a small piece of “clear” material to set the entire compound on fire. The ‘Mona Lisa’ Boron borrowed from the Louvre during the museum’s COVID-19 closure is on fire. This escalation of the movie happens so quickly and so completely that it’s confusing to process at first. It feels out of character for Helen and shifts the film’s overall tenor.
But as writer-director Rian Johnson told The Atlantic’s David Sims, the film is “a bit of a primal cry for the carnival-like antics of the past six years.” Helen’s reaction in .. embodies this scream.
It’s easy to see “Glass Onion” as good versus evil. We viewers tune in to Bran and Brand for Bronn and his minions. But I don’t think that neither you nor I are completely immune to the film’s satirical purpose. In the same interview with Sims, Johnson explains that he finds relationships with these types of highly successful entrepreneurs appealing. Like Bronn’s friends, we admire the millionaires and don’t intend to burn them all down.
I’m against Elon Musk, but I still spend hours a day on Twitter. I disagree with Jeff Bezos, but he buys hundreds of dollars a month on Amazon. I disagree with Mark Zuckerberg, but I always post on Facebook and Instagram. My accusations are baseless because I am so dependent on these giants. Would I have smashed the castle on Bronn’s island to pieces or shrugged off the injustices that were perpetrated?
“Glass Onion” pulls off the paradoxical achievement of providing non-stop entertainment while making us think about our complicity in the evils that bring us entertainment. We are amused and perplexed by entertainment. This is an impressive depth from traditional hooda units. I can’t wait to see what case Benoît Blanc chooses next.