GLASS movie review – M. Night Shyamalan finishes his trilogy in an odd way
M. Night Shyamalan’s GLASS is full of odd surprises as it concludes the stories of 2 of his previous films and unites the owners of Marvel and DC Comics.
GLASS is the final film in a trilogy that includes 2000’s UNBREAKABLE and 2016’s SPLIT. Many casual movie goers may not have been aware that the two films are related. UNBREAKABLE is the story of David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who survives a train wreck and in the process discovers he has super powers. SPLIT is about a man, Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) who has a split personality. Actually, he has 23 different personalities. Some of those personalities form a cult known as the Horde and sacrifice two teenage girls to bring about a 24th super powered personality known as The Beast.
These are two very different films. UNBREAKABLE is a slow drama that turns into a super hero movie at the end. SPLIT is a thriller/horror movie. Aside from having the same writer/director, M. Night Shyamalan, there seemed to be no connection between two until the final minute of SPLIT when Willis’ David Dunn shows up and says just two words, “Mr. Glass”. Mr. Glass is the villain from UNBREAKABLE and the name sake of the final film in the trilogy.
GLASS starts with the Horde capturing more teenage girls to sacrifice to The Beast and David Dunn decides to track him down. As the two begin to battle, the authorities show up to capture them both and then David Dunn and Kevin Wendell Crumb are locked up in the same mental institution as Mr. Glass. The three of them spend most of the movie in therapy sessions as a psychiatrist talks to them about whether or not they really have powers or if they just believe they have powers.
One of the biggest surprises of the movie is not the plot, but how it got made. The original film UNBREAKABLE was produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, SPLIT was made by Universal Pictures, and GLASS was put out by Disney and Universal together. These are two companies that don’t always get along real well. They fight regularly at the box office and have a long standing feud over the theme park rights to the Marvel characters and the solo film rights to The Incredible Hulk. On top of that there is a clip of the 1960s Adam West BATMAN show featured in the film which means Warner Brothers OKed one of their DC Comics characters to be in a film produced by Disney the owners of Marvel Comics. Unfortunately this united front isn’t enough to save GLASS.
GLASS is an awkward film. It starts out fairly exciting; gets right to the action and the tension of a big standoff and then gets pretty slow for a while as everyone sits around in therapy. The pay off at the end of the film is so so; never quite delivering the epic battle that was promised. The movie feels a bit like a really slow episode of the TV show HEROES.
Samuel L. Jackson plays Mr. Glass and is wasted for a good chunk of the film as the character is in a medicated stupor for 2/3 of the movie. Bruce Willis as David Dunn is also wasted as he mostly sits around in his cell. The real stand out (acting wise) is James McAvoy. Just like in SPLIT, McAvoy goes through a whole catalog of personalities showing off his range. McAvoy is the reason SPLIT worked and his acting is the highlight of GLASS but at the same time the split personality gimmick starts to feel like an old act.
It’s amazing how well UNBREAKABLE and SPLIT go together at the beginning of GLASS but that meshing seems to unravel as the film goes on with McAvoy’s characters seeming less and less true to SPLIT. Eventually the The Beast seems like a cheap generic version of The Hulk.
By the end of the film it starts feeling like one of those non-canon mashups like ALIEN VS PREDATOR, the kind of thing that gets ignored by the continuity of the main movies in the series.
GLASS suffers from the same things that most M. Night Shyamalan movies do: awkward stiff dialog, a story that tries way too hard to be clever but never quite succeeds, an unnecessary twist that throws away half of the movies’ story, and of course a hokey drawn out cameo by the director himself. The main problem with the film though, is that it just doesn’t deliver what was expected of it.
GLASS isn’t a terrible movie, and in terms of super hero movies, it’s still better than a lot of the DC Extended Universe stuff but it definitely has issues and just doesn’t deliver what it could.
2.5 stars out of 5