“Glass”- Movie Review
To describe M. Night Shyamalan’s career would be to describe the wild ups and downs of a winding rollercoaster. It starts out at a good trajectory, going higher and higher until it reaches its peak. Then it does downhill, taking strange loops and bad, jagged turns along the way. In the end, you’re left with two things: one hell of a memorable experience, and a massive headache. In many ways, Shyamalan’s career has been a massive headache. Lately, however, he seems to be getting back on the right path, with movies like The Visit and Split leaving a good impression on audiences. One can only hope that this next feature, a sequel to a secret franchise, is further proof of his comeback.
Glass, the latest installment of the Unbreakable trilogy, takes place three weeks after the events of Split. Kevin Wendell Crumb- a.k.a. The Horde (James McAvoy) – has continued his kidnapping spree, while the vigilante hero David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has quietly been taking down criminals with the help of his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). After the two cross paths and come to blows, they’re sent to a mental institution overseen by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who’s determined to convince them that their perceived superpowers are nothing but delusions of grandeur. And among them is the comic book-obsessed terrorist, Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), who may or may not be planning something big.
Critics and audiences aren’t quite sure what to make of Glass. Some are regarding it as another win for Shyamalan. For others, it’s a massive disappointment that fails to live up to its predecessors. Those who fall into the latter category tend to be big fans of Unbreakable, and thus it’s understandable that their expectations might be on a different level than casual moviegoers. Personally, I was never on that bandwagon. I really liked Split, and I didn’t see Unbreakable until a few weeks ago. So my only expectation was to be entertained. And as scatter-brained, choppy and awkward this movie is at times, that expectation was largely met.
Regardless of what you think about the execution, there’s no denying that Shyamalan has interesting ideas swimming around in his head. Glass is chocked full of good ideas, many of which are expansions of what were introduced in both Unbreakable and Split. The film plays with the traditional superhero mythos. In many ways it embraces the tropes of that genre, though it also takes its sweet time to deconstruct certain elements, such as identity. A good example is whenever Paulson’s character uses logical reasoning to explain the existence of superpowers. It plants seeds of doubt into the minds of the other characters as well as the audience watching them.
The filmmaking itself has its highs and lows. Moments of choppy editing and scene structure results in shots that cut off in random places, and the lack of a smooth flow. Because of this, the film is a mess. But it is a good-looking mess. The cinematography is striking. Between the setup of the hospital rooms, the color-coding (especially in the pink-room counseling scene), and the use of shadows to build suspense, the visual appeal keeps your eyes glued to the screen.
The script is ripe with Shyamalan’s classic style of dialogue, which, in my opinion, can sound very awkward. But for the most part, the actors here go a great job at making it sound, well, a little less weird. Bruce Willis gives a solid performance (it actually looks like he’s invested and he’s trying), and Samuel L. Jackson is great as the creepy yet intelligent antagonist. James McAvoy delivers the most powerhouse performance, showcasing his incredible range as an actor while also putting his all into the physical and emotional aspects of his role.
When I step back and look at Glass as a whole, I don’t see a disappointment. I don’t see a bad film, or proof that Shyamalan is back to being a high-tier director. All I see is a deeply flawed yet thoroughly entertaining film that harbors a lot of creative ideas. It draws to a close at a whopping 2 hours and 15 minutes, and I don’t think it needed to be that long. But the good things about the film kept my interest. Whether you’re an Unbreakable fan or not, I believe there are enough creative elements there to keep you entertained from its rocky start to its rocky finish.