With a less-than-stellar story, Glass cracks under its own ambition.
Glass is the final instalment to M Night Shyamalan's superhero trilogy. Following events in Split, David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis), is hunting down Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). But when both men are warded in a mental institute; they find themselves, along with Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson), part of a programme run by Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). As Dr Staple tries to debunk the 'specialness' of these men, the results will leave the world being inexorably changed.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
The film is bolstered by a heavyweight cast. You have Samuel L Jackson with a fierce intelligence in his eyes. There are Bruce Willis' quiet intensity and Sarah Paulson's underlying resignation of what she has to deal with. Spencer Treat Clark resumes his role as Joseph Dunn, a son of a superhero father. There’s an equal amount of awe and worry that crosses his demeanour, especially when it comes to David heading out for his “walks” (read: vigilantism). You'd think that you're watching a drama instead of a superhero movie and that's partly due to Shyamalan's continual intent of creating a grounded superhero movie.
Characters' growths are evident. Anya Taylor-Joy's Casey Cooke, who'd rather not be the centre of attention in Split, now relishes the attention as she confidently struts down the school hallway. Bruce Willis lumbers as an aged vigilante; Clark retains his wonderment that's tempered by adulthood.
The standout in Glass is, of course, James McAvoy. He is fantastic in this. Playing a character with DID (dissociative identity disorder), McAvoy switches among the 20 (out of 24; one wasn't acted out, three were cut out of the movie) personalities with relative ease.
What we didn't like
Oh boy. I love Unbreakable and Split but I didn't dig Glass. I had high hopes for this but it fell short.
The film spent the bulk of the time with Dr Ellie Staple trying to convince Dunn, Crumb and Price that they are ordinary people. But we've seen them do extraordinary things—things that are ripped out of the pages of a comic book. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Dunn, Crumb and Price (my God, they sound like a law practice) are people with supernatural abilities. Dr Staple trying to convince us, and them, otherwise with flimsy evidence is just moot.
Also, if Unbreakable focuses on Dunn; Split on Crumb, for a movie called Glass, Samuel L Jackson's character only appeared an hour into the movie? In fact, now that I think of it, Bruce Willis is also sorely underused in this flick.
The twist sort of work but when you run it back in the head, you find things that don't make sense. (Again, spoilers to follow; maybe watch the movie first and come back to read the rest of this?) Here are some of the plot holes (that were much bigger than the one David Dunn drowns in; hey-oh!), without context :
- Didn't anyone notice if the surgery on Price was successful? I mean, if you're attempting frontal lobotomy, I'm pretty sure the guy in charge of the procedure would know, especially if the laser worked.
- Dr Ellie Staple is trying to erase people with superhuman abilities but she had to wait 19 years since Unbreakable to put her plans into motion?
- There was no evidence of Price being away of Dr Staple being part of a cabal trying to suppress knowledge of people with super abilities so why was his endgame to expose the presence of superheroes/villains?
- Water is David Dunn's weakness but he's unable to use his superhuman strength to push himself off to avoid being drowned in a water-filled pothole like a bitch?
The ending was… meh. Glass had a set-up that builds towards something that would pull the rug out from under us but it lacks bite. And you wonder, why even make Glass at all? Unbreakable turns the superhero genre on its head way back before Marvel took reins of it and Split was a horror film that was actually an unexpected sequel to Unbreakable. Glass is not a fully-realised project.
Oh and one more thing.
I don't know Shyamalan personally. He might be a cool dude that you can hang with and talk shop about movies but there's something grating about seeing him cameo in a movie. I get it, that's his signature as a director but his appearance isn't subtle. In fact, his 'acting' can be a distraction from the story. His one appearance which still rankles me to this day was him casting himself in Lady in the Water. In that heavily-tanked film, Shyamalan, in a supporting role, plays a writer, who will write a book with ideas of such import that it will inspire a Midwestern orator, a future president and alter the world for the better. I mean, that's like writing your own Wikipedia page.
Shyamalan appears in Glass and he's, in what it appears to be, CLUMSILY TYING UP A LOOSE THREAD IN UNBREAKABLE?
Oh God. I've spent way too much time on this review. I… I need a break.
What to look out for
We refer you back to James McAvoy's acting as a DID- moves among the personalities of Kevin Wendell Crumb. Crumb's characters are so distinctive that it's fun trying to identify who is who.
Glass is now out in theatres.