Knives Out | The Glass Onion - an ironic detective

The Glass Onion is the second part of Knives Out, both films are united by Detective Blank, but tell different stories.

Perhaps because it's a sequel, perhaps because of a few all-too-familiar clichés, this film is still considered less worthy than Ryan Johnson's first creation, but at the same time, and perhaps for the same reason, contains well, a lot of storytelling techniques and stylistic devices that can be picked apart.

Let's do it. Especially since it's not so clear-cut.
Be careful: there are a lot of spoilers in the text!
Benoit Blanc has been invited to oligarch Miles Bron's private Greek island with Bron's eclectic and influential group of friends, but then it turns out that no one actually invited Blanc, and the case takes a very different turn.
At first, the film takes the form of a conventional murder mystery in a closed circle, where Miles appears to be the target. Then Duke and "Andy" are killed one by one, which hints at the plot of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None". It is then revealed that Duke's murder was the second, and Andy's murder occurred a few days earlier, with Blanc and Helen bluffing the killer from the start by having Helen play his sister.

As with the first instalment of Knives Out, the film is a vulnerable and condescending take on the mystery genre. In particular, the film features a twist when it is revealed that a character has an identical twin - a classic twist often considered a cliché, but here it is done sincerely to reveal and fully characterise the film's true protagonist, and the solution to the mystery is a great diversion of the genre - the perpetrator is the most obvious, immediate and uncomplicated answer, but no one could expect it, because the killer would have to be extremely reckless and stupid for it to be true... but that's just the way he is.

The film also parodies and "red herring" - Derol (the guy who shows up periodically and asks others not to pay attention to him), is a prominent character... but ultimately he's not part of what's going on and can be ignored since he really has nothing to do with the mystery.

In the first film, Blank has been anonymously hired to investigate a crime that didn't seem like a crime to begin with, so when he is mysteriously invited to Miles' party without his knowledge, it seems like someone on the inside wants him there again because they know a crime is about to happen. But it turns out that Blank was in on the whole thing from the beginning.

Upon arrival in Greece, the heroes are sprayed in the throat with some kind of canister and simply told that now they are not afraid of kovid. This inexplicable super-science allows them to do without masks for the rest of the film - after all, it's pandemic time. Given what we later learn about Miles, one can only wonder if this super-science helped at all.

- Miles Bron is a fairly transparent allusion to Ilon Musk, reflecting a common criticism of Musk stealing other people's credit and trying to present his wildly impractical ideas as brilliant.
- Duke Cody, a bald, muscular, "men's rights" and social media activist with a penchant for selling unnatural snake oil, resembles Joe Rogan with a little dash of hypertoxic masculinity Andrew Tate.

- Birdie epitomises celebrities such as Kim Kardashian who threw parties in the midst of isolation. She also appears on a pier in Greece wearing a mesh mask over her face, for which Lana Del Rey was criticised in October 2020.
How clothing in general reflects personality: the way the characters put on their masks when they meet at the docks helps define their character:

- Lionel wears his professional N95 mask at all times and tries to avoid socialising, showing that he takes the pandemic seriously and is quite considerate of those around him.
- Claire's mask covers her mouth but regularly falls off her nose, showing that she is only interested in appearing socially and morally approved. She only puts the mask on when people see her and corrects it to cover her nose after Blank addresses her as "Governor", showing her self-consciousness about her performative political image.
- Berdy puts on a mesh mask that looks (and probably functions) more like a veil than a face mask, and immediately tries to start hugging despite the protests of the others, showing that she's far more concerned with how she looks than how protected she is - at the same time, her responsible assistant Peg puts on a functional face mask and doesn't take it off the entire time the group is on the dock.
- Duke doesn't wear a mask at all, nor does his girlfriend Whiskey, suggesting that neither of them consider the virus a real threat or simply don't want to be inconvenienced.
- Blank wears a homemade mask that matches his clothes, reflecting his dandy fashion sense, but he wears the mask properly and keeps his distance from the others.
- That Miles asked one of his employees to spray something down the throats of all the guests that supposedly protects them from a virus shows that he's more interested in flashy things that look cool rather than something that has actually been tested and proven effective.
- In the first chronological scene, Helen is shown wearing a disposable surgical mask, which emphasises her decency and respect for others. The fact that she wears a disposable mask also emphasises her humble background compared to the Revenants. Also, when she appears as Andy on the dock, she does not have a mask because she has already put one on by assuming Andy's identity.
The introduction scene, where we are introduced to the characters before they even meet, also emphasises the individuality of the Revenants. This is the so-called exposition - an introduction to the main characters.

- Claire opens the door and only carelessly covers her face with her hand, even though the pandemic is still going on. Claire enters the house and finds it full of unmasked staff working on her re-election campaign, showing how little she cares about real issues and how focused she is on political power.
- Lionel finds himself alone in a large lab, teleconferencing with various Alpha personnel and trying to cover for Miles despite being told that his ideas don't work. This shows that he takes science seriously and is aware of Miles' shortcomings. It's also foreshadowed that Miles is an idiot, as most of his ideas don't make sense and he relies on others to implement them, and that despite everything, the Revenants don't tell him no.
- Birdy, despite the fact that everyone is supposed to be quarantined and socially isolated, throws raucous parties, showing that she is an empty-headed celebrity more interested in personal pleasure than in following even the most basic safety rules. She's also the one who has to explain the most how to find the clues in the puzzle box.
- Duke hosts a stream and begins to explain the reasons for his misogyny related to men's rights, but he is quickly silenced by his mother, showing how much of his tough guy image is a sham and that he is easily controlled by those who have any power over him.
- Whiskey also appears briefly in the stream, wearing a revealing outfit and mocking feminists, before returning behind the camera and checking her phone, clearly bored.
- After all of the Revenants solve the intricate puzzle, the frame shifts to Brand, who just stares at the box. She doesn't even try to solve it. She just hits it with a hammer and thus receives an invitation. This shows that she doesn't want to play Miles' game and is willing to just destroy something to win. This also explains the character of Miles - the boxes are unusually simple, despite their outward complexity. And Helen's character - that's exactly the same way she will then destroy both his house and his reputation.
- When we are introduced to Benoit Blanc, he's playing a light-hearted game of Among Us with his celebrity friends. While other Revenants are clearly seeking fame, the relationship between Blanc and his friends is more casual and compassionate, reminding us that Blanc is a genuinely good person, and while he has a certain amount of fame, it's not important to him.
- Miles plays "Blackbird" on the vintage guitar that Paul McCartney used to write the song, all just to impress Birdie. He then recklessly tosses the instrument aside, probably causing significant damage to it. This shows that he knows how to impress those around him, but is careless with his wealth. In the song "Blackbird" he also messes up chords, showing that he's not as perfect as he may seem. Also worth noting: Paul McCartney is famously left-handed (see any picture of him playing), but the guitar Miles plays is right-handed, which is the first hint that Miles is nowhere near as knowledgeable as he thinks he is.
The famous Mona Lisa is also presented to us as a real character. Of course, it's not a real painting - she's depicted larger than in real life and has been painted on canvas, which is best seen when she's on fire.

In fact, the real Mona Lisa was painted on wood. But within the reality of the film it is very real and plays an important and symbolic role.

Miles always wanted to do something big so that he would be remembered in the same sentence as Mona Lisa. His dangerous fuel that blew up his compound and Mona Lisa herself ensures that he will be remembered as the man who destroyed Mona Lisa.

The whole film is a great illustration of the Once more with clarity technique, where we are first shown events and then shown them again from a different perspective.
Midway through the film we go back to the beginning and replay many of the previous scenes, but now with the understanding that "Andy" is Helen and that she is already working with Blanc to catch the killer. Many scenes diverge or expand to accommodate this perspective and eventually lead to Blank solving the case. To be clear, the first half of the film opens with a shot of a hand knocking on a black door, while the second half opens with a hand knocking on a white door.

At the end when Blanc is ready to believe Miles in his plan to kill Andy (actually Helen) with Duke's gun during the synchronised blackout of the lanterns, which was originally supposed to take place during the murder party, Only then does he realise with amazement that Miles took the whole idea from himself when he had earlier warned him about how risky it was to invite a bunch of people with a grudge against him to an isolated island, using the hypothetical situation to emphasise the risk Miles was putting him at. This reinforces Blank's point about how unoriginal and stupid Miles is after all his deceptions.
Of course, much of the reality of the film is made for "red-tape" and would be impossible in real life, much like bringing home the Mona Lisa.

When Duke is killed and the heroes try to summon help from the mainland, the police are unable to get ashore until the next morning, as the fancy jetty that Miles has set up can only be approached at low tide. However, the Aegean Sea (as part of the Mediterranean Sea) has minuscule tides, which is not a problem in real life; at most, a person landing on the jetty can get their feet wet.

When Duke climbs out of the pool, he immediately pulls out his gun, which is strapped to his swimming trunks, and shoots into the air. In real life, he'd be lucky if the gun didn't explode in his hand and rip off several fingers at once. Pistols are not designed to be submerged in water. If the gun has been submerged in water, it must be cleaned before attempting to fire it. Any water droplets in the barrel when a fired cartridge case hits it can turn into a solid object and possibly rupture the barrel

The trial between Andy and Miles was supposedly about proving which of them came up with the original idea for the company. Andy originally wrote down the idea on a napkin, which she threatened to use as evidence against Miles. In real life, business ideas are generally not legally defensible. Control of the company would be determined by contracts and ownership of company stock. In this case, it doesn't matter who developed the business plan.
The film has just an incredible amount of hints and clues as to who the main villain is, what the case is about, and how it will end. But they are available mainly to the attentive viewer.
A signature technique of foreshadowing in the film is that many key movements and details of the mysteryare left in plain sight, with only camera framing or distractions preventing them from being noticed by the average viewer.

In the invitation letter, Miles asks the participants to state their dietary restrictions. This will help him further improvise Duke's murder, as Duke has presumably told him about his pineapple allergy.
During the puzzle box scene, Duke's mother recognises almost all of the riddles and casually, boredly announces the answers ("It's a stereogram!"); she even guesses how to open the box itself before anyone else does. This foreshadows both the fact that Miles's supposed "genius" is mostly nonsense that is easy to discern, and hints at the difficulties Blanc and Helen have in solving Andy's murder: they are looking for a complex motive and opportunity planned by a brilliant mind, but the true answer is obvious and likely to be easily guessed by someone outside of Miles's inner circle.

The musical puzzle in the box is called fugue, a melody that changes and forms a different composition when superimposed on itself. This foreshadows the unusual structure of the film - the film rewinds to reveal a major plot twist, initiating a replay of the film, "the same tune", but with events completely reinterpreted with new information and point of view, and creating a completely different picture.
Benoit and his friends play Among Us online, but he is quickly deduced to be an imposter as he doesn't understand how the game works. Blank joins the party himself, helping the imposter Helen, and does a much better job of keeping the mystery alive. His Among Us character is also coloured white, as is Helen-aka-Andi.
After Miles welcomes everyone to the island, Blank and Andy are left alone on the beach. The first phrase Andy says to Blank is "Weird shit - rich people". This is because Helen isn't rich CEO Cassandra Brand - she's a humble schoolteacher - and she demonstrates to us an acquaintance with Blank because they already know each other.

The idea that the clues to Miles' pseudo-murder are all over the island, while they don't even need to go outside the room, foreshadows the main theme of the film.
A little joke for modern art lovers: the Matisse in Miles' bathroom is Icarus, which sets up the pretender's ultimate downfall.
If you look closely at the shot of Birdie in the pool before Andy is revealed, when Birdie takes off her cap and reveals herself, you can see some sort of object drop from the top of the frame into Birdie's swim bag right next to her - it's Helen putting down the recording device before sitting down.

The film shows Miles and Duke sitting down at a table, and Miles puts a drink in Duke's hand, which would later be proven to be Miles slipping Duke a fake drink. The film tries to make the viewer doubt by showing that Duke mistakenly took the glass from the table, but viewers paying attention to the guys for the first time, rather than to Birdie twirling around in her dress, will see that the second version of events is inconsistent and false.

In some shots of the film you can see Miles with Duke's phone, Miles with a gun that is then hidden in an ice bucket, but the shots and action are constructed in such a way that none of this is noticeable.
The film's title "The Glass Onion" is three references at once:

  • to the name of the estate
  • An allegory for the essence of murder - Blank refers to what seems complex as a "glass onion", but once you separate the layers, the centre becomes crystal clear
  • to a Beatles song.
Here, as in the first film, the Big Fancy House technique is used, but in contrast - whereas in the first part it was an old mansion, here it's an ultra-modern building.

Cool Car: Probably the only truly adorable thing about Miles is his 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder which he nicknames "Baby Blue". He supposedly takes it with him anywhere in the world, and in "The Glass Onion" it sits on a large turntable on the roof. After the destruction of the house, the location proves to be very unfortunate.

And there's also a lot of so-called Brick Joke, the meaning of which only becomes clear to us towards the end of the film.
- Upon arriving at the mansion and seeing Miles' ridiculously Banksy-esque dock, Lionel asks what it is and the captain replies "Pisceshite", which Lionel believes is the name of the island in Greek. Later, when Lionel tries to call for help, he is told that no one can come because the same jetty is out of service at low tide. It is only when the operator repeats the word over and over again that Lionel realises that the first captain simply called the jetty a "piece of shit".
- Blank tries to have a pensive smoke in a secluded corner of the mansion grounds, but an alarm goes off and an automated voice tells him that this is a nonsmoking area. The alarm goes off again at the end of the film when the mansion burns down.

- Blank asks if there will be a prize for solving the murder mystery, such as an iPad. After Blank solves the crime, Miles states that he might get an iPad Pro.

- After learning that Klear produces hydrogen gas, Claire panics at the thought that the energy system she's just approved could turn every house powered by it into a "Hindenburg". Shortly before Miles' Klear-powered mansion explodes, she dejectedly utters "Hindenburg"
Casting GAG: Blank's call buddies at Zoom have a history with the murder mystery genre.

Steven Sondheim as himself, an homage to the murder mystery parties he threw that inspired the entire Knives Out series. A scene from the previous film follows, with Blank humming "Losing My Mind" from Sondheim's play Follies.

- Angela Lansbury played the role of Miss Marple. She also played a suspect and a victim in the film adaptation of Christie's famous Vacation Mystery. Like Sondheim, her work also appeared briefly in the previous film (Martha's mother is seen watching the Spanish dubbed series She Wrote Murder, played by the same actress).
- Natasha Lyonne collaborated with director Rian Johnson on the comedy series "Poker Face" (Poker Face), which was in production at the time of the film's release.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written several books about Mycroft Holmes, the older brother of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes.

If you pause the film, you'll find that Angela Lansbury's username is "MSheSolved" and Stephen Sondheim's username is "FleetSt".
Small little things you may not have noticed:
- Claire's election posters state that she is an independent candidate.
- Blank's invitation to Miles' party has a bent corner. It was bent when Helen broke the puzzle box to get the invitation.
- After Duke receives an alert on his phone and gets into an altercation with Miles, a photo of Cassandra Brand appears on the screen of his phone, which is far enough away from the camera to not be seen.
- Claire ignores her husband's call after Blanc breaks the murder mystery. On re-watching, it becomes clear that he is calling to inform her of Andy's death.

- At Birdie's birthday party, someone asks if Peg is still putting out fires. In the background, you can see Peg running past with a fire extinguisher to put out a real fire.

- Everyone at the party gets a personalised cocktail glass, except Peg, who instead gets a red Solo cup. Later, in the background, you can see she diligently inscribes her name on the glass while Andy picks a fight with the rest of the party.
Центральная тема фильма
Destruction and system.
The film is about how existing structures and the law are broken in favour of the wealthiest and most privileged.
  • Interestingly, it's still not clear what what Alpha does. The napkin on which the original idea was written mentions "scalability of cryptocurrencies", one of Miles' ideas is related to NFT, it has a news network, a delivery service, aeroplanes and space rockets, but that's all we learn. Overall, it looks like a parody of Amazon, Apple and Tesla combined.
  • Helen Brand survives a shot in the chest by an unknown assailant that seemingly should have killed her, but it later transpires that her sister's diary in her coat pocket stopped the bullet and saved her life. It also helps that the gun turned out to be a small calibre and shot through thick glass at first, but the trope of having something in your pocket save your life is also a fairly popular trope.
  • When it comes time for the "murder game", Blank solves it before it even begins, noticing Miles' distinctive but out-of-character necklace, recalling a magazine article seen earlier, and noticing a real crossbow placed in the correct position to realise that the clue to the game is that Birdie killed Miles for stealing her necklace. This technique is called Sherlock Scan.
- Upon seeing the glass icosahedron in Miles' office, Blank says, "Oh my God, it's covered in stars!", correctly referring this line to 2010: "The Year We Make Contact", not "2001: A Space Odyssey".

- Miles notes that the plot of his Murder Weekend was written by Gillian Flynn. Later in the film, there is a blackout on the screen that precedes the revelation that the woman the audience thought was dead was actually being carefully staged, as in Flynn's novel Gone Girl.

- Miles also boasts that the designers of his puzzle "were trained by Ricky Jay." This isn't Jay's first collaboration with Rian Johnson - he did the opening voiceover in The Brothers Bloom and was due to appear in Get Knives, but had to be replaced by M. Emmet Walsh due to his untimely death.

- Helen compares the situation to the game Clue and tries to emulate its tick-box format by noting which suspects have both motive and opportunity to commit murder. Blank, who is negative about the game, reminds her that real crimes are not that simple, and proves to be right when it turns out that everyone had both motive and opportunity.

- Like the previous Benoit Blanc film, Knives Out, the plot is reminiscent of a Agatha Christie mystery.

- One of the glass statues shattered at the climax resembles the Maltese Falcon.

- When Helen meets Blank, she says that she typed "World's Greatest Detective" into Google to find him. Blank recognises the phrase and specifically notes that he is not Batman. In the Spanish dubbing, Blank's phrase that he is not Batman is replaced by his claim that he is not James Bond.