review – glass onion

For most good mystery movies, I will usually watch the movie twice. The first time for the mystery and the second time for the movie. There have been good mysteries in a not so good movie. For example, the movie “Flightplan” (2005) starring Jodie Foster. It was about her daughter disappearing mid-flight. I remember a few friends saying they didn’t want to see the movie, but they asked me what happened to the daughter. There are also good movies with a bad mystery in the movie. For example, the movie “Knives Out”. I thought the movie that preceded this movie was good, but the mystery wasn’t so good. 

For this movie I ended up watching it 3 times. The first time was in an almost full movie theater during its exclusive 1-week theatrical run around Thanksgiving. The second time was when it aired on Netflix, just to see if something had changed from its theatrical run. I decided to watch it a third time recently after all the hype for the movie. Some people are predicting this movie will get nominations and maybe even win awards. In fact, as I am typing this the movie just won “Best Comedy” and “Best Acting Ensemble” at the Critics’ Choice Awards. I thought since the first 2 times I watched it were during holidays, I might not have been in the right mood to watch it, although my opinion of the movie didn’t change with the 3rd viewing. 

Every year, billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) has a weekend getaway for his group of close friends. This time, the friends Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), and Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr) – along with Birdies assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) and Dukes girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) – travel to the island Miles owns named “Glass Onion”. However, the weekend getaway doesn’t go as planned due to the additional guests: Andi Brand (Janelle Monae) – a former friend who is now estranged after a fight which led to a lawsuit, and Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) – the “world’s greatest detective” (as people say a few times in the movie). 

First, I will review the murder mystery which starts off pretty cliché. One of the basic settings for a murder mystery is a location that no one can enter or leave such as a secluded house (usually with a storm outside so all the roads are blocked or flooded), or a train (such as “Murder on the Orient Express”), or a boat (such as “Death on the Nile”). For this movie, it’s a private island with only invited guests. I’m no longer wondering why Kenneth Branagh’s next Hercule Poirot movie coming out later in 2023 isn’t “Evil Under the Sun”. The plot for that movie is also a group of people on an island where someone gets killed, so he probably decided against it due to its similarities to this movie. 

Although the setting is cliché, I thought the murder mystery was good. The plot was setting up suspects and motives. Then the plot completely changes when the movie breaks what I consider the biggest rule for murder mysteries. I won’t spoil what the rule is because telling you the rule is also telling you the big plot twist in the movie. So, the only thing I will say is don’t bother trying to figure out who the killer is – or even who the victim is – until after the plot twist. 

Now for the review of the movie. There are things I really like about the movie. I liked the similarities the characters have to real people. Miles Bron seems like a cross between Richard Branson (who, I believe, actually owns his own island) and Elon Musk, Birdie Jay and Duke Cody remind me of a few somewhat famous social media influencers/entrepreneurs, I think Duke’s girlfriend Whiskey would probably have a very popular “Only Fans” page if she was real, and Claire Debella reminds me of a few real politicians. 

Also, I really liked the storyline (other than the murder mystery). The “Mona Lisa” painting is part of the story and some of the motives that the characters have are somewhat similar to current events. 

However, other things that I like about the movie at the beginning I end up not liking at the end. For example, the cameos. There are quite a few celebrity cameos in this movie. My favorite is Ethan Hawke who plays what is described as an “Efficient Man”. He’s only in the movie to spray something in the mouth of all the visitors to the island so they won’t need to wear face masks for the rest of the movie and so “we can hug again” (as one person explains). Towards the end of the movie, I was practically groaning “another cameo”. Even the person doing one of the last celebrity cameos looked bored. 

I thought the overacting that some of the cast does at the start of the movie was part of the movie’s storyline. By the end of the movie, I realized it was just unneeded overacting. I thought the same thing about the plot holes in the movie. I thought they might be explained when the murderer is revealed, but they aren’t. For example: They never explain why the estranged friend Andi Brand was invited to the island. According to one conversation she has with Whiskey, she didn’t come to previous weekend getaways. 

Overall, the movie completely fails as a murder mystery but as a movie I think it’s OK. It’s definitely not worth watching 3 times, If I didn’t have Netflix, I probably would have only watched the movie once. In my opinion, it also doesn’t deserve any awards. 

I give the murder mystery a 2 out of 10. 

I give the movie a 5 out of 10.