Glass movie review: M Night Shyamalan desperately needs a co-writer to channel his ideas into a smart film
Glass has all the elements to be an epic conclusion to this trilogy, but Shyamalan's film ultimately doesn't hold up.
castBruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Anya Taylor-joy, James Mcavoy, Sarah Paulson
directorM Night Shyamalan
The most unique aspect of Glass, the new film by M Night Shyamalan, is that it renders a multitude of emotions on all sides of the spectrum.
You’ll feel hope, wonder, excitement, indifference, sleepiness, and also rage – but mostly rage. Maybe it’s a super genius ploy by Shyalaman to make the audience feel exactly like James McAvoy’s character: going through many personalities before ultimately turning into the beast.
Or it could simply be a case of awful screenwriting that undoes the goodwill built by Split. Since the filmmaker himself makes no qualms about being ridiculously on the nose in his movie, it is only fair to use an on the nose pun to describe it – chipped.
In Glass, we pick up a few months after the events of Split – Kevin aka The Horde (McAvoy) is still kidnapping young women and turning into The Beast, to do, as one of his personalities says, awful, awful things. Elsewhere in the city David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is carrying on with his vigilante work – the media calls him The Overseer, and of course no one knows how he looks. It doesn’t take long for the two to collide, and they ultimately end up in a mental asylum where another inmate is also present – Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) aka Mr Glass from Unbreakable.
The first twenty minutes of the film promise something exciting and epic: the pacing is right on the money and the ‘action thriller’ direction that the film seems to take, after the existential drama of Unbreakable and the horror of Split, seems to be the correct application considering this is Shyamalan’s Avengers-like universe. McAvoy is even more magnetic and jacked up this time around, having fully embraced the lure of The Beast and showing us some more of his 23 personalities.
Everything falls apart the moment we enter the asylum. The pacing comes to a screeching halt. Logic goes out the window. Plot holes appear and break things like elephants doing cartwheels in a china shop. Some cinema sins appear, like characters finding out things from documents conveniently placed in unlikely places, reacting to findings in an over-the-top manner, and then keeping said findings secret even though the information is obvious to the audience.
But those are not the worst things about Glass. That honor goes to Shyalaman explaining to us, over and over again, in excruciating detail and clunky dialogue, how comic books work, and how heroes and villains are complements of each other.
The information is given to us in sermons, as if you are receiving this knowledge as a gold plated gift from someone extremely enlightened and you’re supposed to genuflect to this deity because this knowledge will set you free and you will live the rest of your life like the final fifteen minutes of 2001 A Space Odyssey.
Behold the shocking realisation in 2019 — where there are fifteen superhero films in theaters every week — that a comic book villain has a ‘masterplan’. Shudder in awe as you see a comic book store where a character has the biggest realisation of his life because he picks up a comic from a section called ‘Villains’ for the first time in his life, despite working with a superhero all his life. Witness the amazingness of the heroic Overseer wearing a raincoat in broad daylight, just so we don’t see it’s not Bruce Willis doing the stunts.
It’s all a frustrating let down. There was something beautiful about the villain in Split, where McAvoy's character related with abuse victims and saw them as superheroes because they developed self-preserving mechanisms to defeat their abusers. In Unbreakable, which still stands as one of the all time great films, Mr Glass spent a chuck of his life killing people because he was lonely and wanted to find someone who could be just like him. Dunn gave up on a football career and pretended to have an injury because he wanted to marry the love of his life.
These are the nuances that bring the best out of Shyamalan, but there’s none of that magic present in Glass.
The film instead constantly harks back to his cheesy The Happening like moments, with an ending scene at a train station that is so jaw-droppingly awful you’ll have to see it to disbelieve it. The ideas are evident and challenging for sure – we get it, he’s trying to deconstruct the superhero genre, but the bloke desperately needs a co writer to channel the ideas into a smart film.
Glass has all the elements to be an epic conclusion to this trilogy, and considering Shyamalan had twenty years to fine tune the script, this should not have been a disappointment. But just like in comics, everyone loves a good comeback — so Glass being another bad Shyamalan film is a twist I definitely did not see coming.
For a much more interesting deconstruction of the superhero genre, sit at home and stream James Gunn’s Super instead.
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