Glass Review

That M. Night Shyamalan, he sure loves twists. After years and years of critical and commercial flops following his run of success in the early 2000s, he finally delivered something palatable again in 2016’s psychological thriller “Split,” then surprise – revealed that it was connected to 2000’s “Unbreakable.” Suddenly we’re looking at “Glass” as the final installment of a trilogy we didn’t even know existed but was 19 years in the making.

“Glass,” too, is – unsurprisingly – a film preoccupied with twists. Not necessarily by way of quantity (though it has a few) but because the film’s value is tied to these big reveals. We sense Shyamalan keeping a few cards close to his chest – as he’s trained us to do – and spend most of the film’s two-plus hours waiting for him to play them. Only retroactively do any of the film’s storytelling choices make sense, and it becomes clear just how much of the runtime is biding time.

The film begins by reintroducing us to David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who has apparently spent the last 19 years as a poncho-clad crime-stopping vigilante. After he tracks down and first encounters the dangerous multiple-personality kidnapper Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), both superhumans are apprehended and placed in the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) at Raven Hill psychiatric hospital, where it turns out Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) has been these many years.

Much of “Glass” takes place in the hospital with a whole lot of talking. Shyamalan’s screenplay is a lot of big ideas about superheroes and themes related to comic books trying to present themselves as conflict and plot until enough time has gone by that he can press the “twist” button. That’s where Shyamalan the director comes in to save us from absolute tedium. He crafts several scenes with expert suspense, but by the time you realize he’s misled you and the scene is going nowhere, you’re already curious about when the payoff will actually come.

Sure, if you skipped out on “Split,” you might enjoy the minutes upon minutes of spotlight the film gives to McAvoy portraying over a dozen personalities, but it’s hollow filler. Then there are the many scenes devoted to whether Elijah will or won’t put his master plan into action, the one we all know is coming eventually.

The payoff moments do make a solid effort to justify the story’s tendency to run in circles; Shyamalan has clearly put some thought into finishing out his manifesto on “what if superheroes were real?” Yet it’s not enough to charm audiences into thinking the entire film was worthwhile. Undoubtedly, some will fall for his spell, but it’s very clear that he had a good arrival point and very few good ideas of how to get there.

2.5/5 Stars

Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson


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