Hey! Hallie here!
‘Glass Onion’ was probably my most anticipated film release of this year. ‘Knives Out’ is one of my favorite movies of all time and marks one of my favorite movie-going experiences because of how delightfully surprising it was. With such a well performed, written, and executed movie being its predecessor, I had really high expectations for the sequel. ‘Glass Onion’ definitely lived up to my expectations! I wouldn’t say it was as good as the first entry in this series, but it’s still one of the best movie mysteries I’ve ever seen. I managed to go into this without knowing anything about the plot, which I highly recommend if you can. Mysteries like this are always a lot more enjoyable when you go in knowing just as much as the characters. In other words, don’t read this unless you’re completely ok with spoilers or you’ve watched the movie. This is a SPOILER review! With that out of the way, I have a lot to gush about, so let’s get into this!
Benoit Blanc: As always, Benoit Blanc is entirely too entertaining of a main character. Sure he’s a genius detective, but unlike characters like Sherlock Holmes, he’s relatable. He’s good at solving real mysteries but can’t wrap his head around games like ‘Among Us’ and ‘Clue’ because he isn’t “good at dumb things”. When he first arrives on Miles Bron’s island he’s uncomfortable, both confused by the practices of rich people and awkward around so many people he doesn’t know. He also spends most of the pandemic either in the bath, on face-time with his friends, or both. He doesn’t feel like an untouchable character, but rather someone you’d really want to know in real life. Plus, he was apparently friends with Angela Lansbury. How can you dislike him? But, as usual, his genius is just as compelling as his relatability. He’s kind to everyone he meets but he’s clearly the only one in this movie who’s capable of putting all the pieces of the mystery together. It was especially nice to see him up against someone he over-estimated, leading to one of my favorite mystery unraveling scenes. The entire time Benoit explains how Miles Bron got away with murder, he’s exasperated by how stupid Bron is. From the way he poisoned Duke with pineapple juice to stealing Benoit’s own idea for his attempted murder of Helen, Benoit spends the entire mystery reveal hilariously dissing Bron. But even before the film’s ending, it was even fun just to see Benoit solve the fake mystery Bron set up for his guests before the mystery game could start. Sometimes it’s just fun so see a character be extremely clever. Also, Benoit is officially confirmed as a gay character! It’s not entirely blatant in the movie, but Benoit does share a flat with his partner. Who happens to be played by Hugh Grant. HUGH GRANT. I just about died when he answered the door.
Helen Brand: While Benoit Blanc is an excellent character to follow on his own, Rian Johnson’s mystery films make a point of also centering a normal character who uses more attainable skills to help Benoit solve each mystery. This time it’s Helen Brand, the secret character Janelle Monae plays. Helen’s a surprisingly badass character. She discovers her sister’s death and instantly jumps to take down the group of culprits. Despite the fact that she knows Benoit’s plan to capture the killer will put her in danger, she agrees to join him on the island disguised as her sister anyways. And though she isn’t the best at pretending to be her sister, she’s really good at snooping around and finding good hiding places to listen in on private conversations. She even successfully plants a listening device on Birdie. This character benefits from having a good heart and genuine intentions. It’s easy to like her after the scene where she personally connects with Whiskey, a character most of the others write off as dumb. And it’s easy to sympathize with her when she destroys Bron’s glass mansion because of everything he did to her sister. I never thought I’d be so happy to see someone destroy the Mona Lisa. Plus I love a good character quirk, and like Marta’s tendency to vomit when she lies in ‘Knives Out’, Helen gains confidence and better snooping skills after she chugs alcohol. It’s a nice detail that makes you feel like you know the character well.
The Mystery: The entire concept of this mystery is given away in the title of the movie. Initially the mystery seems complicated. At first the audience is preparing to solve a completely different murder. The upcoming murder of Miles Bron, who’s inviting trouble by inviting a bunch of people who have vendettas against him onto a private island to play a murder mystery game. Once we learn of the real mystery, the death of Helen’s sister Andi, it’s only slightly less complicated. All of the visitors to the island have clear motives and the opportunity to have killed her, and Miles Bron is so obvious of a potential murderer that he would be easily blamed should Andi die, making him the least likely culprit. But ultimately the mystery turns out to be simple. The fact that Bron killed Andi hides in plain sight due to his inability to hide that he was at Andi’s house in regular conversation, his obvious hiding place for Andi’s reputation ruining letter, and his clear motives for wanting to have Andi killed. The fact that he would be easily found out never crossed his mind because he’s stupid, which winds up being enough to throw off Benoit and the audience. No one suspects him because everyone assumes he’d be smart enough not to murder someone he was just publicly in a brutal legal battle with. The clues that you pick up more and more as the movie goes on, and the ones that make you slap your forehead for not piecing together the murderer sooner, are his own idiotic comments. It’s a true Glass Onion, appearing complicated but in reality being quite simple. And, if you look back at ‘Knives Out’, it’s kind of similar. While Ransom isn’t as stupid as Miles Bron, he is the clear suspect. However, the mystery is laid out so brilliantly that you believe it can’t possibly be him until the end of the movie. This mystery is just as solid as the ‘Knives Out’ mystery and is rewarding in its simplicity.
Twins: This is a blog run by twin sisters so you know I have to complain about this. The real mystery of the movie is revealed with the twist that the character Janelle Monae’s been playing this entire time is Helen Brand. Why is this a twist? Because the audience up until that point believed she was Andi Brand, but Andi turns out to be dead and Helen, her twin sister, has been posing as her to help Benoit find answers. So yeah, the big twist is that one of the characters has a secret twin. This happens a lot in media and it’s almost never done well. It isn’t done well here either. Firstly these twin characters fall firmly into the “opposites” trope. One is a big business woman whose embraced posh culture, and the other is a small-town teacher who finds that culture silly. Which is irritating to see as a twin because twins have plenty in common, we just also have plenty of things we don’t have in common. Just like most siblings. Then there’s also the fact that both characters are portrayed by Janelle Monae, which is irritating because, despite how small the differences may look to you, twins always have physical differences. And, as a twin, it takes me completely out of a movie when twins look completely alike because they’re being portrayed by the same actor. These are just annoying tropes that always come across as cheap and overused to me. And the whole “secret twin” thing’s getting old.
The Ensemble Cast: I didn’t dislike this ensemble cast, but I didn’t like them as much as the first movie. I don’t think this group of friends worked together as a unit quite like the family in ‘Knives Out’. There was clear on-screen chemistry between every actor in ‘Knives Out’ as they portrayed a close but toxic family environment. They successfully worked separately from one another as warring parties competing for their own fortune, but they just as easily worked together as an intimidating force against Marta. The friends in this movie don’t feel all that close, nor do they seem very formidable together despite the fact that they all took down Andi together. Claire and Lionel seem to spend some time together, but only so they can express essentially the same motive to protect Bron. Birdie doesn’t interact much with anyone aside from Bron or her assistant, Peg, who isn’t even part of the friend group. Whiskey and Duke are only ever together or separately with Bron. In other words, they all have a good relationship with Miles Bron and barely talk to each other unless it’s convenient for the plot to group a few of them together. I just didn’t buy their close friendship, and there were a few scenes where some of the characters felt like a warm body to fill a scene rather than an important part of the friend group. To be honest, sometimes it felt like Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr. were taking turns being the “voice of reason” without either of their characters serving much of a purpose besides. I could have done with a slightly more strongly written supporting cast here.
And that’s it! I had a few more issues with this one than I had with ‘Knives Out’, but the rest of the movie more than made up for them. I’m still over the moon that Benoit Blanc’s romantic partner is Hugh Grant. While the first movie had a better supporting cast and some genius ideas that can’t really be replicated in each movie, I still had fun with Benoit Blanc’s newest excursion. These are my favorite murder mystery movies of all time and I can’t wait to see what Rian Johnson cooks up in the next ‘Knives Out’ mystery. The third one is already confirmed and on its way!
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!