‘Glass Onion’ lives inside a bubble

‘Knives Out’sequel is too absorbed in being extravagant to have an exciting plot

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” the highly anticipated sequel to 2019’s “Knives Out,” was released on Netflix in late December. “Glass Onion” centers around a group of wealthy friends solving a murder mystery on a lavish Greek island, each with ulterior motives and more to lose than is originally revealed. While the movie has an enticing  premise, it falls flat in quite a few ways, especially in its plot structure. 

The fascinating characters in this movie are what make it shine. Each one is a satirical portrayal of a type of celebrity, like Duke, a gym bro/men’s rights activist, or Birdie, a retired swimsuit model known to post the occasional ethnic slur on social media. 

At the center of the group is Miles Bron, who invites the group to a murder mystery party on his island. The relationships the characters have with Miles unfold throughout the course of the film. We see how his money works for and against the characters, manipulating them to do anything they can to stay on his good side.​​ Miles essentially blackmails all the characters into supporting his new energy source in different ways, despite the fact that it has the potential to destroy the planet and has not undergone sufficient testing. They all comply, however, because they have always needed his money to support their careers.

Edward Norton hilariously captures the essence of a self-absorbed CEO while portraying Miles Bron. (Photo illustration by Manya Girivasan)

The satire was entertaining, but while it is easy for an audience to presume that there was meant to be a deep message about the pitfalls of extreme wealth, it was not conveyed clearly enough to be a major takeaway. From a viewer’s perspective, it felt like I was witnessing a real group of rich idiots, very reminiscent of people in real life, but the movie did not emphasize the problems with this lifestyle nearly enough. Apart from seeing how money causes a power imbalance in the group of friends, all that is portrayed is these people enjoying the luxuries they can afford while craving more cash. 

When it comes to the actual murder mystery, the movie lets the audience down. The entire second half of the movie is spent revealing how Benoit Blanc was attempting to solve the mystery behind the scenes. We learn that almost nothing we had known previously was true, making it feel as if the movie had just restarted and what we had seen before was somewhat unnecessary, except to show flashbacks and point out clues no one had noticed before. 

The actual revelation of Miles’s crimes was also underwhelming. It was creative, but only in the sense that the writers found a way to write a unique ending that actually required no effort at all. There was no evil genius or great plot twist. There was not a moment where suddenly everything pieced together. It just felt like there had not been any great crime committed at all, rather a string of coincidences which led to the circumstances the characters found themselves in. It all came down to the fact that Miles Bron was a moron whose achievements leeched off the intelligence of other people, especially his partner Andi. People only assume that he is intelligent because of his wealth and status. In reality, he murdered multiple people to protect his empire in incredibly stupid ways. The only reason it was not obvious that he was the culprit was because of the ideal of his personality and intellect that came with his fame.

It is interesting to note that unlike the first movie, most of the characters end up relatively unscathed, despite the fact that everyone was corrupt and complicit. Every single one of them was using Miles for his money, and even lied under oath to protect him and allow him to take his company from his partner, Andi.  

All in all, it was amusing to watch the characters in this movie and relate them to the real world. The sets and costumes were dramatic and stunning, from the literal giant glass onion on the island to Birdie’s extravagant outfits. This movie is entertaining, but is not deeply exhilarating and probably won’t change your life. I think “Glass Onion” is worth watching once for the campiness, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.