REVIEW: “Glass Onion” is a worthy successor to “Knives Out”

A (mostly) spoiler free review of “Glass Onion”

By Sydney Gannon | March 28, 2023 4:00pm
"Glass Onion" was nominated for an Oscar in the 95th Academy Awards.
Media Credit: Emma Sells / The Beacon

With the 95th Academy Awards, the motion picture awards season has come to a close. The films that were nominated for Oscars represented the best-of-the-best for visual storytelling in 2022. One film recognized for its sharply comedic writing was “Glass Onion,” which was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Even though it lost the award to “Women Talking,” “Glass Onion” is still a clever and entertaining whodunit mystery that is worth your time and attention. 

I love a good whodunit. From the 1985 classic film “Clue” to the underrated 1978 novel “The Westing Game,” (if you know this one, please be my friend), whodunit murder mysteries never fail to keep me entertained. 

Writer-director Rian Johnson set out to deconstruct the traditional narrative and turn the whodunit genre on its head with his murder mystery “Knives Out” in 2019 and with “Glass Onion” in 2022.  

When I heard that Netflix would be releasing a sequel titled “Glass Onion,” I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure that Johnson could subvert our expectations like he did with “Knives Out.” Could he really go further into deconstructing the genre? 

The set-up of a whodunit mystery is fairly simple. We have a cast of eccentric characters, each one with a secret, gathered together in one place. Suddenly, a murder is committed and everyone becomes a suspect. Now it is up to a hardened yet charismatic detective to answer the central question: who did it? 

In “Knives Out,” we have our cast of eccentric characters (the Thrombey family), their murdered patriarch, and the charming Southern detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, to solve the case. 

Despite this classic set-up, Johnson quickly breaks down the whodunit story by showing us how the murder happened — or at least how it seemed to have happened — early on in the film. 

“Knives Out” then seems to become less of a whodunit and more of a crime cover-up. It is not until the end of the film that Blanc shows us that there is more to the murder than meets the eye. By revealing the events of the murder towards the beginning, “Knives Out” becomes a standout film in its genre. 

I was worried that “Glass Onion” would be a repeat of its predecessor, but the film pleasantly surprised me by not being “Knives Out” in location, character and story. In fact, the only visible similarity between these two films is Blanc. 

Both movies take our expectations of what a murder mystery looks like and shows us that there is more below the surface. That is why “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion” are two of my favorite movies.

“Glass Onion” replaces the antique mansion and fall aesthetic of “Knives Out” with a warm, sunny private island in Greece. A group of friends, or “disruptors” as they call themselves, have gathered there at the invitation of their close friend: tech billionaire Miles Bron, played by Edward Norton. 

Blanc shows up at the island at the request of a mysterious invitation that Bron did not send him. While Blanc was treated as more of a supporting character in “Knives Out,” he is placed at the forefront of “Glass Onion.” 

Here, Blanc is at his best: charming, inquisitive, humorous, kind hearted and a fashion icon. Craig shines as the charismatic and at times goofy Blanc, a turn from his role as the cool and collected James Bond. 

The cast of A-list actors, including Kathryn Hahn, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista and Leslie Odom Jr., all give standout performances. Special attention deserves to be given to Janelle Monáe, who plays Bron’s mysterious former business partner, Andi Brand. Monáe carries the second half of the film, dealing out the perfect comebacks that warrant cheers from the viewer. 

“Glass Onion” is also full of surprise cameos that will make you say, “Wait, is that who I think it is?” I certainly did not expect to see Blanc playing “Among Us” with Steven Sondheim, Angela Landsbury, Natasha Lyonne and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

Since the film is set in May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic plays a role in the story. I found this a little off-putting at first since we all remember what the world was like in May 2020 and the pandemic still plays a big role in our lives. But by secluding the characters on a private island, the story starts to separate that from all that’s going on in the world. 

“Glass Onion” presents a fresh perspective on whodunit storytelling. Instead of showing you what’s beneath the surface, “Glass Onion” puts everything in front of your face and challenges you to see it. 

This is evident in the film’s title. You expect the crime to be complex, so you start trying to peel back the layers, looking for what lies at the center, but the center is right in front of you. You’re so convinced that the story is so complex that you fail to see what’s at the center of the glass onion. 

And what is at the center of this glass onion? Just plain old fun and some brilliant writing. Even if you are not into murder mysteries, “Glass Onion” is still an entertaining watch. It is chalk full of fun characters, easter eggs and cameos, a ridiculously lavish private island, hilarious antics and, of course, Benoit Blanc. 

If you’re looking for an enjoyable Friday night watch that will keep you guessing and make you think harder than you need to, I highly recommend that you dive into the transparent layers of “Glass Onion.” 

Sydney Gannon is a reporter for The Beacon. They can be reached at