This post contains spoilers for “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”
Crafting the perfect conclusion to a murder mystery couldn’t be a more complicated endeavor. You have to come up with an ending that simultaneously surprises the audience, but actually could have been figured out by any of them at any point in the movie. The perpetrator can’t be someone too obvious, and if they are, you have to play with the conventions of the genre in a way to make people think that their first instinct couldn’t be right because the form dictates that there must be something else going on. It’s pretty amazing that some writers have the ability to thread this needle time and time again, and while it’s still early in Rian Johnson’s tenure as the modern murder mystery man, he’s threaded it again.
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” chose to try the path of the killer as the most obvious candidate, Edward Norton’s billionaire Miles Bron. In a movie about toxicity or the one percent, you might think having the eccentric billionaire be the killer would be putting a hat on a hat, driving the film’s message down your throat. Surely, Johnson has something up his sleeve to reveal, right? Just as Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc does, we realize that it really is that simple and “stupid”. We are made to be idiots that the solution to this matter could be anything other than a powerful and wealthy man silencing anyone or anything that gets in the way to increase his profits and status. He thinks that what he does makes him seem smart and knowledgeable, but in reality he is nowhere near as smart or knowledgeable as he thinks he is.
How the rich deceive you
Miles Bron is not explicitly based on a single billionaire, but the people in the class that include the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos all share this unquenchable desire to prove their superiority, believing in the money and power they hold. accumulated over their lives was right and just. Of course their superiority is a myth, but so many people buy into it. People flock to what they believe to be the great innovators in the world with the hope that they too will be able to hobnob among the elite one day. Capitalism misleads people into believing that someone’s personal wealth determines the value of a person, and if those people are the richest in the world, that must mean they have earned it.
Before the start of the picture, Norton’s Miles Bron has completely cut out his business partner – who also had the idea for the company in the first place – Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe) from the company, and everyone in her life who she thought of asking as a friend turns on her because they have have become sycophants for Miles, not wanting to jeopardize their ability to climb the ladder. When Andi rediscovers the evidence that will prove she founded the company, he kills her, and when Dave Bautista’s manosphere Twitch streamer Duke realizes that Miles did this and tries to blackmail him, Miles kills him as well. He thinks he’s figured out a way to eliminate whoever gets in his way that even the great Benoit Blanc can’t figure out, but he acquired his wealth through manipulation and riding coattails. The folly of Miles Bron is as clear as day, but part of us doesn’t want to believe it. You can always count on a billionaire to disappoint.
When humanity is a radical notion
Of course, the other big twist with “Glass Onion” is that the film won’t be a murder mystery. It’s been a while since the opening frame, and the person we think is Miles Bron’s ex-partner Andi is actually her twin sister Helen, both exquisitely played by Janelle Monáe, who is investigating her sister’s murder with the help of Benoit Blanc. In their investigation, Helen finds the original napkin on which her sister conceived their tech company, which Miles very dumbly kept as a sign of his own ego and dominance. When this irrefutable evidence is brought to light, her former friends begin to think that it might be a good idea to distance themselves from Miles. That is until Miles sets the napkin on fire and they cowardly retreat under his wing. It takes Helen using the hydrogen-based energy source the company has developed against them to completely destroy Miles’ island that they all eventually turn away from the billionaire.
If the world’s systems were just, it wouldn’t take this explosive act (which includes the destruction of the Mona Lisa) to make people see the light. But it does. People are perfectly willing to sacrifice their own empathy and humanity for the sake of another dollar. They know that in order for them to rise, someone has to fall, and they won’t do anything about it until it literally blows up in their own faces. While the group of old friends deciding to support Helen at the end is the right thing to do, it’s incredibly damning that it takes so long to be on the right side of the story. In reality, they are more concerned with appearing on it rather than actually being on it. Doing the right thing shouldn’t be that hard.
It’s fun to watch a billionaire lose everything
What makes both “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion” so wonderful is that while all of these political themes are on the surface for all to see and think about as you leave the theater, their ultimate goal is to have a good time. To me, there are few things more entertaining than a billionaire being rightly laughed at and completely destroyed. It’s the ultimate power fantasy for all us normies to take these megalomaniac, egotistical pricks down several pegs. Watching Helen break every valuable thing in sight, set things on fire, and finally make the whole island go ka-boom is more exciting to me than any superhero fight you can put in front of my eyes.
“Glass Løk” is three things: a commentary on class, a murder mystery and, arguably most importantly, a comedy. Rian Johnson wants to delight and make you laugh, and this over-the-top, spectacle-driven finale does just that. The audience I watched hooted and – if you can believe it – shouted too. We loved that this douchebag was revealed to be exactly who we thought he was and got exactly what was coming to him. Then you go from this explosive sequence to the punchy opening chords of The Beatles’ title track over the credits. “Glass Onion” leaves you on the perfect high.
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