M. Night Shyamalan’s directorial filmography is a particularly interesting one. He has some of the best genre films of the past two decades, but also some of the woeful worse. The stark decline from The Sixth Sense to The Happening will be the cause for many a head scratch for years to come. His superhero genre film Unbreakable, is interesting and tight. An intelligent and thought provoking take on the superhero tale and the real-world applications. This was long before Nolan brought Batman into the real world with The Dark Knight Trilogy. Nearly 10 years after Unbreakable, Shyamalan made a rare return to form following a decade of flops and with the impressive thriller Split. In the films closing moments, where one would expect a classic Shyamalan twist, Split featured a cameo from David Dunn, the main character of Unbreakable which birthed the connected universe between the three films.
Glass follows on from Unbreakable with Bruce Willis returning as David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with Crumb/The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
Sometimes, a films ambition can be its hubris. Glass is one such case. The film feels underdone and hindered by plot points that seem to be crammed in. It starts magnificently, with a steady building of tension and what would seem to be complex writing. However, once half way through the film something changes and it all of a sudden seems rushed. As if Shyamalan has actually made a 5-hr film and only realised half way through shooting. There are glimpses of the psycho and impressive movie that Glass could have been. Nevertheless, this isn’t a total disaster. It’s an interesting watch with impressive performances, particularly McAvoy who does an astonishing job with his 24 characters. He is giving it his all, and the film benefits tenfold from his investment. Jackson and his unparalleled vocal dexterity are on wonderful display, however for a movie called Glass, it doesn’t seem to really utilise Mr. Glass to the fullest extent and we lose what could’ve been more stimulating. Willis is his wooden Willis usual, but it works. Sarah Paulson, one of the best actresses working today, oddly turns in a dull performance as the psych who is determined to prove these superhumans are not at all super. Glass is nearly shattered by its big ideas but there are just enough out-there moments and wild concepts floating around that it’s impossible to completely dismiss even if they don’t come together. This film dances a very, very fine line between clunky and overbearing, and whimsically over the top.
Glass is more of a Split follow up then an Unbreakable continuation. This is to the eventual detriment of the film. Glass is a display of the considerable talent that Shyamalan possess, but fails to turn this story into a revelation. It’s an intriguing watch even if its bamboozled by its own spirit.
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