“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” has a Tricky Plot but Ultimately Disappoints

The tricky plot of Knives Out: A Glass Onion Mystery does not make up for its shortcomings in character development.

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The tricky plot of “Knives Out: A Glass Onion Mystery” does not make up for its shortcomings in character development.

Rian Johnson’s 2019 film “Knives Out” was an immediate hit among audiences, and threw viewers into a well-written tale of mystery, family drama, and politics. However, less can be said about the recently-released 2022 sequel, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” A weaker cast, hard-to-follow storyline and less attention to the characters create a sequel that, while it is tricky, cannot compare to the original.

The only member of the “Knives Out” cast to return was Daniel Craig, to continue his leading role as the famed detective Benoit Blanc. It was disappointing to not see any other cast members return, especially because of the acclaim the original cast received (“Knives Out” won ‘Best Cast’ at the HCA awards in 2020). However, Blanc’s performance throughout the movie was just as spectacular as the original, and was well complimented by the performance of Edward Norton and Janelle Monáe. Their performances combined are what brought a hint of emotion into a movie whose plot seemed to deprive the viewer of it.

The plot of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is certainly quite complex, and reminds one more of a murder mystery novel than anything else. The main characters gather on billionaire Miles Bron’s private Greek island for a murder mystery party that quickly turns sideways. The major twists and turns are not expected, and it thrills viewers with a satisfying resolution. However, in exchange for a complicated mystery, the plot sacrificed the humor and character development found in the original. Seemingly all of the cast (except for Craig, Norton, and Monáe) were forced into extreme stereotypical roles that, while sometimes humorous, detracted from the movie overall. The characters of the original “Knives Out” were relatable and grew over time. It was easy to find a character on screen and think ‘They remind me of my relatives!’ The sequel seems to completely abandon the concept of character development, and exclusively uses characters with either substantial wealth or political power, reducing their relatability to the audience.

It was also disappointing to see the movie ‘rewind’ halfway through, as the scenes the viewers watched earlier are replayed from a different perspective to add to the complexity of the mystery. While it is understandable that the filmmakers had to shoot it this way in order for the mystery to be actually solvable, it means that all of the information the audience had gathered early on needed to be thrown out, as a much deeper part of the plot is explored. This decision created too many red herrings and ultimately made some portions of the movie hard to follow.

However, one of the things the movie did best is the portrayal of the billionaire character Miles Bron, played by Norton. His brilliant “complicated genius” performance on-screen has many similarities to the attitudes of some billionaires in real life, with the most striking similarity being between him and Elon Musk. While the movie was written long before his takeover of Twitter and the ensuing chaos, Norton plays a character that certainly stood the test of time in the new billionaire-filled 21st century world.
Overall, the movie’s complex mystery is enjoyable, but it lacks in terms of character development. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is worth the watch for the mystery, but not for the characters. It unfortunately follows the pattern of many movies whose sequel cannot possibly live up to the original.