M Night Shyamalan, the director of both acclaimed films like Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Split and reviled films like Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Happening, After Earth, has had an interesting career to say the least. There was a time when M Night was called “the next Spielberg” but then something happened (excess pride?) and he started cranking out poorly-received films consecutively, to the point where studios did not even use his name to market films, ie ‘The Visit.’ However, he seemed to kind of find his groove again by directing 2 good movies in a row – the aforementioned ‘The Visit’ and ‘Split,’ where he brilliantly tied the events of ‘Split’ to the larger superheroic-‘Unbreakable’ world. Thus, here we are. Being a Shyamalan movie, we expect a twist to completely change our perception of the movie (ie Sixth Sense), which is why I worked extra hard to avoid giving any hints of the twist. But just a random question, is it even a spoiler to say “there is a twist in a M Night Shyamalan movie?”
Positives – James Mcavoy is absolutely wonderful in this movie and it’s a shame his performance will likely be forgotten by the Academy voters. Playing so many different characters effortlessly requires a world-class actor and Mcavoy might just have given his best performance to date. Samuel L Jackson returns as the villainous Elijah Price, aka Mr. Glass, and he definitely brings his A-game to the “limited” role he has. Bruce Willis, whose recent performances have been less than stellar, is actually pretty good in the few scenes that he does have. M Night relies a lot more on Willis’ physique as Dunn rather than giving him a lot of dialogue to work with. Barring a couple of poor CGI moments, the fight sequences between Dunn and The Beast were pretty cool to watch and definitely packed a super-strong punch. Despite a weak first half, the second half is actually pretty exciting because we see Glass actually be a mastermind and use his incredible wits. As was the case with Unbreakable and Split, Shyamalan uses colors brilliantly and consistently for the 3 main characters – Dunn’s being green, Kevin’s being yellow and Elijah’s being purple. It’s a good way to distinguish the characters.
Negatives – The movie has serious pacing issues and you definitely feel the 2 hr+ runtime. One of my biggest issue, albeit a nitpick, is the security measures or lack thereof in the the psychiatric hospital. It seems as if a patient can wander around the hospital and tamper with the cameras, equipment etc. without being noticed. The movie’s called Glass when the more appropriate title should be “Split 2: Featuring Unbreakable characters.” Even though Mcavoy is captivating to watch, the movie should have featured more of Dunn and Glass, with the latter literally being the titular character. Also, what was the point of having Dr. Staple (somehow) convince the characters that they are suffering from the delusion of possessing superpowers? More importantly, that should not have add any effect on them because they clearly know they have these abilities. Dunn was the “Overseer” for years and his whole arc in Unbreakable was realizing he has these gifts. So what was the point of retreading over the same story again. The dialogue is pretty clunky at times and Shyamalan resorts to having the characters engage in a lot of exposition and explanation even though it’s largely unnecessary. Without going into any more detail, the ending will leave people divided. For some, like it did for me, the ending worked for the most part. But this is one of those movies I totally understand why others may dislike the ending.
Despite some terrific performances, especially from Mcavoy, and a cool, realistic take on super-powered individuals duking it out, Glass left me a little disappointed. It has narrative issues, logical inconsistencies and a tendency to over rely on exposition. For fans of Unbreakable and Split (like myself), Glass is somewhat of a satisfying conclusion of the trilogy but definitely sub-par compared to its predecessors.
Rating – 2.8/5