By Sarah Wandor
Movie Critic Columnist
I expected more from the minds behind “Knives Out” (2019). After only a few minutes of the film’s intro, I wanted to quit.
Though “Glass Onion” does an excellent job of introducing its characters right off the bat, it relies far too much on politics and stereotypes before giving the characters more depth, creating a nails-on-chalkboard effect. This technique worked in “Knives Out” because it was subtler, yet it fails in “Glass Onion” because the characters are recycled and exaggerated. This lifeless start carries on for 20 minutes and starts to deflate any desire to watch the rest of the film with the introduction of egotistical billionaire, Miles Bron.
The concept of the character is interesting and mirrors many real life celebrities: a famous person using their power to coerce their ‘friends.’ However, the movie fails in execution of the concept because Bron is idiotic, irritating, and intolerable. He lacks any character outside of his self-absorption, which makes him dull but also leaves the audience wondering how he has any sway or control over anyone.
All of this setup may have been in an attempt to inspire intrigue, but it kills curiosity and gives the audience no reason to continue watching. It hardly seems worthwhile to watch a cast of dislikeable caricatures go about their vacation together when there seems to be no mystery involved.
I only found motivation to finish the movie when I was halfway through it. At that point, a character dies and it finally becomes clear why detective Benoit Blanc (the main character) is a part of the film. However, by that point, the movie had already started on a dead note.
If “Glass Onion” had given some hints earlier on as to why Blanc was acting so lost, there might have been some intrigue to propel the plot forward. But instead, what was intended to be a comical introduction only comes off as cheap patience-testing.
After a totally uninteresting introduction, the film divulges a huge amount of information all at once. Instead of having parts of the mystery unfold slowly, beginning at the start of the movie, all the exposition is thrown in the audience’s face at once.
Some people consider this format to be more interesting because it reveals everything in the middle of the movie, blowing minds the same way “Knives Out” did. But I disagree; it’s way too much information at once and the audience isn’t allowed to question or theorize about anything earlier in the film. The only thing viewers are left to wonder is why they are watching the movie.
In other words, there are far better ways to unravel a mystery.
The cherry on top of this mess of a movie was a half-baked, sloppy climax. This climax involved plenty of showy tricks: glass-smashing, slow-motion running, fire: the works. The entire sequence was not only very cliché, totally unenjoyable, and visually unconvincing, it also seemed anticlimactic and had no logical progression leading up to it. The entire climax clearly existed only for looks and added no real value to the story. It was like having a bright neon sign screaming that the writers ran out of ideas.
“Glass Onion” may have its few entertaining moments and an interesting general concept, but that doesn’t make up for a film riding on the backs of largely recycled characters and inadequate storytelling and exposition. Blanc could only keep the plot afloat for so long. In the end, “Glass Onion” simply needed more substance and creativity to carry it through and make it as memorable as its predecessor.