Rian Johnson’s ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ just recently came out on Netflix and people can’t seem to agree on it. And it’s not because of Benoit Blanc’s flamboyant “kentucky fried fog horn leg horn drawl” as Chris Evan’s character in the first movie angrily described, or his overtly exaggerated and drawn out eureka moment monologues that border on intellectual masturbation, rather, because of Johnson’s intentional subversion of the murder mystery genre. A categorization in pop culture that deals with keeping audiences in the dark with subtle hints, foreshadowing, and plot twists all culminating in a satisfying resolution, many don’t appreciate Glass Onion’s undermining of the age-old formula. Perhaps Blanc attributing the entire mystery to debunked “genius billionaire” Miles Bron’s blatant stupidity, instead of some well-thought-out master plan left a sour taste in the mouths of the genre’s staunchest supporters.
YouTube film critic ‘The Critical Drinker’ mentions via Twitter, “Glass Onion may be one of the most triumphantly, defiantly stupid movies I’ve ever seen. How it somehow fooled people into thinking it was a smart, complex mystery is absolutely baffling.”
Glass Onion may be one of the most triumphantly, defiantly stupid movies I’ve ever seen. How it somehow fooled people into thinking it was a smart, complex mystery is absolutely baffling.
— The Critical Drinker (@TheCriticalDri2) January 5, 2023
The so-called film critic further delved into his thoughts regarding the film in an 11-minute video. Central to his disdain for the franchise’s sequel are the “what ifs” in a plot that isn’t tightly sealed to his standards, that would not make much sense when critically examined. Why do people in horror films seemingly make the dumbest of decisions? Pretty much the complaint. A good summarization of his reflection, he mentions, “On the surface, it seems like this complex multi-layered mystery plot that gives up a little bit of information as each layer is unraveled, but the truth is that it’s nothing but a flashy veneer of intelligence with nothing lying beneath.” Wow, talk about telling me you didn’t watch the film without telling me you didn’t watch it.
In response to his rambling, various individuals have shared what the term “glass onion” really meant. Apparently, it originated from a Beatles song of the same name, which meant overanalyzing something that is not intended to mean anything more than what it is. With an actual onion, peeling its layers inch you closer to its center, as if taking hint by hint until you unravel the truth to the mystery at its core. With a glass onion, peeling back any layers is senseless because the truth is in plain sight, revealed to the beholder—the very act of going through the trouble of individually moving back these layers is needless, a waste of time. ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ is not resorting to this concept to excuse lazy writing, rather, it’s to tell the story of how the world’s greatest detective was deeply challenged by a case whose answer was already right in front of him because he refused to believe that such a simplistic resolution was even possible.
Someone mentioned that just because a film is trying to portray stupidity or trying to make a commentary on it, it doesn’t excuse it from poorly executing the idea in a matching simple-minded manner. That is an entire discussion in itself—sure there are plot inconsistencies, convenient surprises, and irrational decisions, all symptoms of lazy writing—I don’t agree with that, but it can be argued. But to deny the film’s intentional use of the concept of the “Glass Onion” and to brand the utilization of the thought’s paradox as an excuse to simplify the mystery is dismissive of the very point Johnson is trying to portray.