Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery


The term “glass onion” originates from the song by The Beatles of the same name. The song is complete nonsense, full of random lyrics and phrases that are either drawn from previous songs in the band’s library or from absolute nothing. The purpose of the song was to intentionally confuse fans who always looked for deeper meanings in their songs. On the surface, the lyrics are deep and complex with a lot of giga-brain metaphors and imagery. In reality, there is no complexity and you’re just deluding yourself into thinking there’s something more at play than there is. (Ed Note: The Beatles also played into the whole “Paul is dead” thing by making a song about a casket.)

After seeing Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the title couldn’t be more apt. It’s a mystery that, on the surface, is richer and more complex than its predecessor in nearly every single way. The characters are more developed, the setting is more striking, and the pacing of the mystery is more thought out, but the film uses this to play with your expectations. You THINK that this is going to be a fantastic mystery that’s almost imperceptible, one that’s going to require you to pay attention to every little detail to even have a prayer of figuring out who is responsible. The comical reality is that, like the eponymous glass onion, it’s almost shockingly easy to understand. And I love it for that. So, so much.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Director: Rian Johnson
Release Date: October 21, 2022 (Montclair Film Festival), November 23, 2022 (Limited Theatrical), December 23, 2022 (Netflix)
Rating: R

For the sake of the mystery, I’m not going to reveal even the premise of the plot other than it’s another mystery written by Rian Johnson and starring Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc, who got himself involved in yet another situation with a bunch of rich idiots and jerks. If that isn’t enough to sell you on it, then fine, go read the rest of the review. This time, however, the mystery is set on an island in Greece! It’s also set during the pandemic, but the film rather humorously does away with that limitation in the first 10 minutes in a pretty comical way to also effectively introduce the cast and their respective personalities, but that’s neither here nor there.

Like most mysteries, it’s important to go into this film as blindly as possible. I was thankfully able to do so due to seeing the film at the Montclair Film Festival, without having to worry about any spoilers interfering with my enjoyment of it. Make no mistake, the second this movie releases theatrically, you should 100% go see it right away. Not just because of the quality of the movie, but because if you wait until its Netflix premiere in December, that’s over a month of having to dodge and avoid spoilers that may strike at any moment. Believe me, you don’t want to be spoiled on anything here, even what the actual mystery of the film is.

Getting back to the film, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery looks, at first, to retread a lot of the same elements as the first film. Without getting into any major spoilers, the fact that the film features Benoit Blanc as the main character isn’t the only similarity between this film and its predecessor. Certain ideas, themes, and even character tropes are reused but altered ever so slightly. Instead of having Toni Collette play a self-care guru who’s receiving financial assistance from her father Christopher Plummer, Kate Hudson plays a similar character with similar issues regarding her brand and marketing. Because of that, you tend to get a lot of the same jokes and gags with a few characters, only they’re even funnier.

Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Copyright: Netflix

The first film, for all of its strengths, pegged itself as having an ensemble cast, but ultimately became a story centered on Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, and Chris Evans’ characters. The rest of the cast came across as set dressing, not really impacting a lot of the plot. That isn’t true here since most of the supporting cast feels a lot more fleshed out with more detailed relationships, personalities, and most importantly, motives for wanting to commit a crime. When the mystery finally does get underway, it feels like a genuine mind bender where you’re trying to suss out along with Detective Blanc who the culprit really is.

That’s all to be expected from a competent murder mystery. There should be a solid cast of possible suspects, an interesting setting, and a likable lead character. What makes Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery better than its contemporaries? In short, it’s masterfully written. Not only are the jokes stronger than in the first film, but the pacing of the mystery is very well told and subverts a lot of your expectations as it progresses. Just as you reach the climax and think you have an answer on who the culprit is, the movie throws curveball after curveball at you until you can’t tell which way is up or down.

It never feels overwhelming though. The film is paced well enough and the first third of the film sets up its mystery far better than in the first film, which threw us into the aftermath of the crime. Here, the film opts to take its time in establishing its cast and their motivations, dropping little clues and red herrings to get the gears in your head running and start piecing together what you believe to be the truth. Always ever present though is the Glass Onion, a gigantic crystal business office of the island’s owner, tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). The mystery may, like the onion itself, seem immaculately constructed and impossible to understand, but it’s actually see-through. There is very little substance within it and the moment you realize the most obvious truth of all, that’s the biggest joke of the film.

Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Copyright: Netflix

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a proper subversion of the mystery genre. Instead of nudging and winking at certain tropes and calling out how stupid or cliched they are, it leans hard into them before pulling the rug out from under you because you missed the most obvious answer. Again, it’s hard not to say what that is and there’s nothing more I would love to do than to just spoil anything and everything to talk about how wonderful of a mystery it ends up being. Doing so would rob you of a climax that feels incredibly cathartic and uproarious. It’s at that point that all of the little pieces, the throwaway lines, and the little asides and musings all come together to create an ending that I would go so far as to call perfect. I have no notes on how the finale could have been improved. It wraps up the plot masterfully, giving all of the characters a proper send-off, and even uses some of the running gags of the film in integral and hilarious ways.

There are minor qualms I could take issue with, like the similarities between the first and second film and how halfway through the film the pacing slows down considerably due to some of these revelations, but those are nitpicks upon nitpicks. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery makes the first film look like amateur hour in comparison. When we inevitably have to talk about great movie mysteries, the Knives Out series is almost certainly going to be mentioned from here on out. One time is a fluke. Two times is a pattern, and this is the rare movie sequel that is better than the first film in virtually every way.

You have no idea how happy I am that Knives Out has become a series. Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig have both confirmed that they’ll keep on making these movies as long as they want to make them and I couldn’t be happier now. This is the kind of movie franchise I can get behind. A ridiculous and uproarious mystery series that blows your mind every chance it gets and delivers clever writing and beautiful cinematography. Of the two installments released, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is the superior of the two and is the must-see movie of the holiday season.




Somehow, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery manages to tell a better mystery than the first movie with a more well rounded cast, tighter jokes, and an ending that is virtually perfect.

Jesse Lab
The strange one. The one born and raised in New Jersey. The one who raves about anime. The one who will go to bat for DC Comics, animation, and every kind of dog. The one who is more than a tad bit odd. The Features Editor.