Review – Glass (2019)

by Kevin Muller

Almost 19 years ago, M. Night Shyamalan, followed up his critical, and hugely successful, The Sixth Sense, with a film called Unbreakable. It divided audiences with its serious approach that it took to the comic book lore. Some thought it was pretentious dribble, while others thought it had such brilliance and approached medium in a unique way. For years, Shyamalan teased a sequel to it, but nothing ever developed. Instead, he produced a decade of films that both flopped and were hated by audiences. No one will be able to imagine mother nature and Mark Wahlberg together without laughing.   Then, in 2017, he gave us a new film called Split. It was about a group of girls being abducted by a mad man with multiple personalities, named Kevin Wendell Crumb, or the Horde, who were trying to escape before it was too late. James McAvoy, brilliantly played the antagonist, and it seemed that Shyamalan remembered how to direct a masterful thriller. Then, the ending happened, and you could hear the collective gasps from everyone as it was revealed that this was the sequel to Unbreakable that we had been waiting for. As Bruce Willis’s character, David Dunn, sat at a diner counter top with the theme song from the original film, he now understood that the city of Philadelphia had to be protected, and he had to take down this new threat. After all these years, was it worth the wait?

When we last saw David Dunn, outside of the cameo at the end of Split, he had come to terms that he had super strength and was the hero, that the film’s villain, Elijah Price, or Mr. Glass, had been looking for all these years. As informed by the ending text in Unbreakable, Dunn had led the authorities to Price, who was responsible for most of the terrible accidents around the city, all to find his “superhero.” Elijah had a tragic life, due to his condition that made his bones extremely brittle, that made him obsess about comic books. In his belief, certain people have super human abilities that walk around this Earth. In the end, finding Dunn made him feel that he had found his place in the world, he would be the super villain. While Dunn has super strength, Price possesses a keen intellect. With this new thread, he now has found an ally with The Horde. Price will be the brains and the Horde will be the brawn. When all three characters wind up in a mental institution, to be studied by Dr. Ellie Staple, Price’s plan starts to come to fruition to pick up right where he left off.

The film’s world and lore are incredibly vast and deep, which is its strength and weakness. While some of it’s so ridiculous, there are so many illogical fallacies that happen to make the plot go forward, but there are moments of brilliance in it too.   Above all, this is McAvoy’s film and he runs with it full speed. In Split, we were informed that he possesses over twenty different personalities and we only saw less than half of them performed. Here, in one of the film’s brighter points, we get to see McAvoy act out multiple characters in such a short amount of time. The scene is incredibly fun to watch, showcasing how amazing of an actor he is. There are about five to six personalities that do stick around a lot more than others do, and McAvoy gives those depth and distinction, through voice and facial tics. His performance overshadows many of the faults this film possesses.

And what are those problems? As mentioned before, the detail that Shyamalan gives this film is also its downfall, especially in the third act. The amount of information he throws at you during the final frames of the film feels off and makes it feel bloated. It also kind of cheapens the story that he has created over these last few films. Most of all, it comes out of nowhere, with no real set up. Sarah Paulson, who is gaining well-earned fame, plays Dr. Staple. Shyamalan tries to hold a magnifying glass up to these heroes. Staple is his voice for the criticisms these heroes may have within themselves.  Some of the points she does bring up are valid, but it seems to make the film’s plot go off the rails in the third act. While the first two acts introduce some interesting ideas and film making techniques, the third act just seems incredibly unfocused. We see the Shyamalan that struggled during those years with cramming too many half-cooked ideas into one movie. Some of the ideas aren’t terrible, but they are just thrown in at the last moment without being able to breathe or expand.

Glass isn’t a terrible movie and it isn’t one of the turkeys that the writer and director gave us from his low points. Some of the film actually works. Outside of McAvoy, Willis and Jackson are great inhabiting the roles they haven’t played in almost a decade. It’s just the damn third act that basically turns something that had a clear objective into something overly convoluted. It seems like Shyamalan wanted to keep pace with the current state of comic book films, even though his take, of a smaller and more intimate telling, was a breath of fresh air. Still, Glass could’ve turned out a lot worse.

I am giving Glass a 3 out of 5 Hairpieces!

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