M. Night Shyamalan is an intriguing writer, director and producer with a solid fanbase. He’s given us classics such as The Sixth Sense but has also produced some epic flops like the non-sensical The Happening. I’m one of those gluttons for punishment who if I like a director I’ll sit through the good, the bad and the ugly. In Shyamalan’s latest film, Glass, he closes the loop on two of his previous films, 2000’s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split, with mixed results.
Seeing Glass in isolation of the other two films would leave any viewer highly confused, as Shyamalan interweaves his stories with a lot of throwbacks, assumed knowledge, and brings back characters from past films in this climactic trilogy ender.
It’s unclear whether Shyamalan planned the three films to be linked as a saga from the get-go, or if he somehow managed to build on the themes of the films throughout his career and thought “hey, this might work!”
Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles as the superhero David Dunn and villain Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass, respectively, from Unbreakable, who are bound to each other through being the antithesis of each other. Dunn having superhuman strength and Mr. Glass suffering from a bone condition that make his skeletal system as weak as, er, glass. Willis, ever the strong silent type, goes through the motions and I remained unmoved by Dunn’s plight. Jackson on the other hand somehow managed to make me sympathise with Mr. Glass, despite knowing his mass-murdering terrorist past.
James McEvoy, in a stunning feat, pulls off 24 characters as Split’s Kevin Wendall Crumb who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. He copped some flak for this character initially and it even spawned a popular meme around the character Patricia. I take my hat off to anyone who can morph into such an array of personalities within seconds.
Sarah Paulson plays psychiatrist Ellie Staples who seemingly pops out of nowhere to lock Crumb and Dunn up in an institution for people with extreme delusions of grandeur, where Mr. Glass already resides. Mayhem ensues.
The plot of the film is so fantastical that it is comedic at times, particularly with Crumb’s “Horde” switching so often. I also felt that the film spent so much time explaining itself, it left little time for action.
As a stand-alone film, Glass doesn’t really work. It tries to fit the mould of the popular comic book superhero flicks and falls short. As the conclusion of a saga, it fares better, but for fans only. It was entertaining, but I’m lucky I re-watched Unbreakable recently or I would have left the cinema even more bewildered than I did.
Glass opens in cinemas around Adelaide on January 17.