Watching movies can be frustrating nowadays, especially when sequels try to out-do the original movie. Often, this goes wrong, and the sequel doesn’t have the same charm or success. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was far too unbelievable, driving away old fans instead of bringing in new ones.
Even more frustrating, when plot twists feel like they came from nowhere. Plot twists don’t exist solely to surprise the audience; they exist to move the story forward. They shouldn’t leave the audience wondering “Where the hell did that come from?”
However, some movie series do both well. “Knives Out” is a murder mystery that relies on plot twists. The twists never felt sudden, even though the movie played with the viewer’s perception of events. I love “Knives Out,” and was cautiously optimistic when I heard there would be a second movie.
I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised when “Glass Onion” came out and it was completely different. It would’ve been easy to attempt to recreate the atmosphere of “Knives Out,” and doing so would have ruined the series. Outside of Detective Blanc, the movies are completely unconnected, which worked really well. From here on out I’ll be talking about the plot, so spoiler warning. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend doing so before finishing my column.
The opening sequence is a series of introductions to the main cast. These initial scenes are packed with information about each character. Miles Bron sends out invitations to his closest friends, asking them to join him on his island during the pandemic. You quickly learn that Governor Claire Debella cares deeply about her political image and is always “presentable” in unassuming beige. Dr. Lionel Toussaint is a pushover for Bron, doing whatever he asks, regardless of how it might impact his career. Birdie Jay is self-centered, also dumb, and is hosting a massive party in the middle of lockdown. Duke is a men’s rights activist on Twitch, and his girlfriend Whiskey helps him. The only two characters who are properly isolating are Helen Brand and Benoit Blanc.
The invitation arrives in a complex puzzle box. Most of the cast play Bron’s game, following the steps to open the box. Helen, on the other hand, simply breaks it open with a hammer, refusing to play along.
Obviously the opening scene of a movie is going to set up later events, but “Glass Onion” does this purely through characters and their interactions. You quickly learn basic facts about the cast and how they interact with each other. All of these interactions foreshadow how each person is connected to Miles Bron and why they still bother with his games. “Glass Onion” is a movie that revolves around its characters, and these small bits of information show exactly why later events transpire. Within the first twenty minutes of the movie, the audience has almost every piece they need to solve the murder.
“Glass Onion” misdirects the audience using the fallibility of eyewitness accounts. It plays with how the audience remembers events; simply changing a few words changes how you remember a scene. When Duke is poisoned on the island, you watch it happen. However, when Bron says that Duke took his drink, that’s how you remember it. It’s not until later when Blanc is revealing everything that you’re shown Bron handing Duke the tainted drink.
I love how “Glass Onion” plays with the audience’s perception of events. It’s something I enjoyed about “Knives Out.” These movies hand you most of the information you need to start piecing together the murder. When the plot twists happen, they’re only shocking because they seem so obvious. You’re not thinking “Where did that come from,” you’re thinking “I should have seen that coming.” These movies rely on characters that feel real, and I think that’s what makes them so enjoyable.
Lynn Spahr is a Hutchinson freshman in general studies.