‘Glass Onion’ is playfully smart


Killian Johnson

‘Glass Onion’ was a song by The Beatles that mocked people who read into song lyrics too much. Since, it has become a metaphor for something that is both layered and transparent.

Venkata Sri Saiveer Chelliboyina, Perspectives Reporter

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is a rendipitous deconstruction of the wealthy that is more relevant to current society than ever. Disguised as a murder mystery, the film explores greed and oblivion in the lavish lives of billionaires, influencers, and incrate people addicted to fame. 

Rendipitous is not a real word. Neither is incrate. Yet, when we see them in a formal, copy-edited article, we assume that they are. 

We tend to think that the people we listen to, those in power, know what they are doing. Tech billionaires and influencers aim to “disrupt” the industry and shape the future knowing how to drum up hype and faux credibility. We trust them, believing that they know what is best for us because they have influence, resources and previous successes. 

When we put aside their prestige and affluence and listen closely to what they have to say, we see that they are not as brilliant as they project. 

“Glass Onion” illustrates idiots that are so good at hiding their stupidity that no one questions them; they are just glass onions.

The film is marketed as a sequel to Rian Johnson’s previous hit mystery, “Knives Out,” despite being a separate story

Netflix paid a lot for the rights to theKnives Out sequels that will all involve Daniel Craig’s character, Detective Benoit Blanc. “Glass Onionretains the cheeky screenplay and the satisfying puzzle-like rhythm of its predecessor. This time though the characters are extravagant and the setting is much more elaborate. 

The film is a critically acclaimed successor and brings promise to the new and unique detective franchise.

Knives Out” tackled the ethics of inherited wealth and privilege in a comic and a thrilling whodunit that often asked whodunwhat. Glass Onion though makes fun of the nuances, or lack thereof, of new money holders. 

While “Knives Out” discussed the stigmas around the United States’ immigration decisions during the Donald Trump era, “Glass Onioncomments on celebrity facades, social media clout and ignorant people in power. 

There is more humor, making the movie feel like a comedy at times. The rich dimwitted characters frolic with ignorance and border on feeling cartoonish. But that is part of the charm of “Glass Onion.”

*Spoilers ahead*

Duke (played by Dave Bautista) is a brainless man-child that is addicted to clout and is willing to exploit anyone around him for his benefit. 

Birdie (played by Kate Hudson) is an unintelligent fashion icon who thinks sweatshops are where sweatpants are made and becomes viral by making derogatory comments about others. 

Claire (played by Kathryn Hahn) is a clever opportunistic politician and Lionel (played by Leslie Odom Jr.) is a sly successful chemist. 

These characters form a friend group that eventually includes Miles Bron, who would soon become an Elon Musk-esque tech billionaire. Bron sets out to “disrupt” the market and urges his friends to share the same ambition. He uses his influence to help them rise to fame and fortune.

His friends, on their way to success, believe themselves to have disrupted their respective industries, whether it be fashion, tech or politics. 

In reality though, the friends are all simply dancing to Bron’s tunes, lured by his power and wealth, even if that means committing immoral acts for him. They betray their old friend Andi (played by Janelle Monáe), who came up with the ideas that led to Bron’s success in the first place.

The various subtexts of the different characters and their motives create a cacophony that masks how simple the truth is. They are all clueless. They call themselves the “disruptors” and believe themselves smarter than they are, focusing so much on acting sophisticated for their image. 

Miles Bron is the perfect example of this. He views himself as a genius billionaire who will shape the future. He uses words that do not mean anything to appear like he knows what he is doing, when in reality, he is just an idiot in power. 

His big revolutionary idea for clean energy from a new hydrogen fuel that he calls ‘Klear’ turns out to be dangerous and explosive. He is neither the smart and radical visionary that he believes nor a brilliant mastermind that was planning an elaborate destruction of society. He is just, as Benoit Blanc puts it, “dumb”.

A movie with so much misanthropy stays lighthearted and playful because of Benoit Blanc. He is both clever and endearing, experienced and enthusiastic. A lot of the comedic relief in this movie comes from his character, but he also makes the film wholesome. 

Amid the selfish suspects, Blanc is a wise, humble detective that has a child-like fascination with everything he sees. His quotable lines and charming snarkiness make him stand out as a memorable character for the franchise. 

“Glass Onion” is a lot of things. It is a murder mystery, comedy, drama and sometimes even a spectacle. But at its core, it is a social commentary that exposes that the wealthy are not smart, they are just lucky.