What is a Glass Onion? 

SPOILER ALERT: A summary and review of this Knives Out Mystery

Claire Arneson, Section Editor

If you are anything like me, over this past winter break you were looking forward to one thing. I am not talking about stuffing your face with food or celebrating the holidays, instead, I am referring to the Netflix premiere of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. After seeing the first Knives Out movie directed by Rian Johnson, I fell in love with the classic murder mystery with a political twist. I started watching Agatha Christie’s film adaptations, but they did not fill my cup as much as Knives Out did.  The first movie came out in 2019 and followed Marta, a nurse and caretaker for the rich author Harlan Thrombey. The movie was extremely entertaining, but it also provided commentary on immigration and old money privilege. Needless to say, I was worried about the sequel coming out. Sequels can be scary, as I have covered many times before, but I am so happy to say that the movie was amazing. 

The film starts out by introducing us to four friends who receive a puzzle box from their rich successful leader, Miles Braun (played by Edward Norton). Claire (Kathryn Hahn), a politician, Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.) a scientist, Duke (Dave Batista) a twitch streamer/men’s rights activist, and Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) a former singer/model, work together to solve this elaborate box to reveal the glass onion. An ongoing phrase that is a callback to the bar they went to before they all became the “successful” individuals they are today. The message contained inside invites all of them to Miles Braun’s private island for a fun weekend with the objective to solve his murder.   

Shortly after their arrival, they are greeted by a dashing Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). It is important to note that this takes place in May 2020, so everyone is wearing a mask, well at least before they are administered an injection in the back of the throat by Ethan Hawke. While the characters are wearing their masks, we get an insight into each of their personalities. Claire’s mask is beige like most of her clothing and is not fit for her face. She is constantly pulling it up, and as a politician, it makes sense that she would want to appear diligent in protecting others and herself during a pandemic. Birdie Jay, a carefree lady who is not the sharpest tool in the box wears a mask made out of chains that poorly protects anyone and herself.   

As they are reminiscing and interrogating Blanc, Andie (Janelle Monáe) pulls up and everyone goes still. We find out that Andie and Miles used to be partners, both business and romantic, but things ended badly after a jury decided Miles the sole owner of Alpha, their tech innovation company. As they pull up to the lavish island complete with Miles playing the guitar, they go through greeting him, and after a tense reunion between him and Andi, they all fully “inbreatheate” the moment they are in. After a short tour, everyone goes to their rooms, but Miles pulls Blanc aside to ask him what he is doing here. It turns out that Miles never invited Blanc, and Blanc suspects that someone re-sent the puzzle box to him as a prank invitation.   

All seems well until we start to dive deeper into the secrets that plague the island and each of the main “disruptors” as Miles calls themselves. Birdie is about to release a PR statement that will ruin her brand as well as her assistant Peg’s (Jessica Henwick) career. Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), Duke’s girlfriend is cheating on Duke with Miles, and Duke found out. Claire and Lionel prepare to go public about something Miles is keeping hidden. Throughout all of this, Andie confronts them all and shows how their success is because of Miles, that none of them did it on their own. This is very similar to the original Knives Out, where each of Harlan’s children was taking money from him his whole life and were able to “make it on their own” when he withdrew his funding.   

As the sun goes down, they get ready for the murder mystery that is about to take place, but before that can happen, we get an interesting monologue from Miles on how he wants to be so successful, he wishes to be mentioned in the same “breath as the Mona Lisa,” so naturally, he rented the Mona Lisa for the gathering. Then a heated argument ensues after Miles announces they are releasing the “sustainable” energy source, “Klear,” even though it has not been tested and is a hazard. After everyone finds their seats with their specially made cocktails in their personalized glasses, Miles announces the game has begun. Blanc, being the genius he is, solves the staged murder before Miles can even “die.”   

As tensions settle and the night goes on, the unexpected happens after Duke drops dead on the living room floor. Blanc is unsure of how this happened, but after further investigation, Miles realizes that Duke drank from Miles’ glass. Freaking out because he thinks he has been targeted, he starts accusing his friends of his attempted demise. All of a sudden the lights go out, another part of Miles’ murder mystery game he forgot to mention and everyone spreads out and runs away out of fear of being the next victim. Andie and Blanc meet outside, and a hushed conversation reveals that Blanc is close to solving the murder, but Andie is at its center. A gunshot is fired through the window and right into Andie’s chest, and as the lights turn back on, we see a crying Blanc over Andie’s body.   

The “twist of the knife” is that Andie never showed up on the island. In fact, Andie is dead. Helen, her twin sister was the one who came to the island in her place. We flashback to the delivery of the mystery puzzle box to Detective Blanc while he is in the bath. His partner Hugh Grant answers the door to a distressed Helen who explains she just found out her sister committed suicide. Things do not add up, however, when she notices an email Andi sent to the “disrupters” containing a photo of her holding an envelope with the message, “found it.”   

Helen theorizes it was the original napkin that Andi wrote the idea for the company Alpha on. The aforementioned trial between Andi and Miles pinned the group against Helen, as they all defended Miles as the sole creator of Alpha. The napkin was the proof Andi had that she invented the company but she, unfortunately, lost it before the trial. Helen believes she found the napkin and told the group to “do the right thing,” but before she could do anything with it, she was murdered and the culprit framed it as a suicide. Blanc decides to take the case if Helen agrees to accompany him to the island while impersonating her twin, Andi. We then flashback to the boat, the arrival on the island, and every time Blanc uncovered something, but Helen is also a part of the investigation. If you go back and watch the movie with this in mind, you can see her sneaking around, which you miss the first time because you are not looking for it.   

The flashback ends as Helen gets shot dead. But she is not dead. Andi’s journal that she has been carrying around in her pocket stops the bullet from injuring her. Using some of Jeremy Renner’s hot sauce that Blanc conveniently has in his pocket, they fake Helen’s death so that she can find the envelope while Blanc reveals the true murderer, the master manipulator, and Duke and Andi’s killer.  

Blanc comes to the following conclusion: “Miles Braun is an idiot.” Miles has been making up words and phrases since they arrived on the island. He is an idiot pretending to be a genius, but his stupidity shows through the crimes he has committed. We flashback to the moment Duke “picked up” Mile’s glass, but he did not pick it up. Miles handed it to him, he placed his own cup in Duke’s hand. But what could be in the cup to cause Duke to collapse? Pineapple juice because Duke is allergic to pineapple, as it was briefly mentioned earlier on when they arrived. Miles killed Duke because he saw him leaving Andi’s house the night she was murdered, he witnessed him flee the unknown crime scene. When Duke’s google alerts show him Andi is dead, he shows Miles and blackmails him into getting publicity from Miles’s success.   

Miles stashes Duke’s gun and knowing that Helen is parading around his house as Andi and takes a shot at her when the lights go out. Helen emerges with the napkin in hand, the proof that Andi was the creator of the company, but Miles burns it, after getting the idea from Lionel. In fact, many of his diabolical plans were stolen from someone else. Hope is lost, and Blanc turns to leave after realizing nothing can be done. He hands Helen something and leaves with no more words. Helen then starts breaking the statues that litter the room. She goes on a rampage and destroys pianos, tables, chairs, and the bar cart. She takes Miles’s lighter and sets the floor on fire with the spilled alcohol turning it into an inferno. She then chucks the “Klear” crystal Blanc handed her into the fire, causing the combustion of gas and flames throughout the home.   

Along with the house burning down, the Mona Lisa can be seen smiling as she too is set ablaze. In the end, Miles got his wish of being mentioned in the same sentence as the Mona Lisa. Realizing their wrongs, the group comes to the agreement to stand by Helen, and give credit to Andi for creating the company. The film ends with Blanc and Helen sitting by each other, Blanc smoking a cigarette, and Helen sitting and smiling like the Mona Lisa.   

Overall the movie was amazing. Was it better than the first one? Not in my opinion, but I would say it was close. As the first movie focused on old money, this took on a new money case. The director Rian Johnson is one of my favorites; I love the way he can spin a tale and twist the knife into the chest of characters and the audience. The Knives Out franchise has so much potential, and I hope that after the success of this movie there will be many more to come. I hope this summary and review gives you good understanding of all the twists and turns of the film. As usual, the film would be a much better watch then this article can give, so if you are looking for a mystery comedy that will keep you laughing and on your toes, get your Knives Out and find the clues to solve the mystery. 


Claire Arneson is a Dakota Student Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].