“Glass” is directed by Shyamalan and stars Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, and Samuel L. Jackson, with a strong supporting cast featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Charlyane Woodard, and Spencer Treat Clark.
Closely following the events of “Split,” David Dunn (Willis) uses his superhuman abilities to track and confront Kevin Crumb (McAvoy), a disturbed man with 24 different personalities including a monstrous form known as The Beast. Events bring David and Kevin before the mastermind, Mr. Glass (Jackson).
To describe “Glass” in a single phrase, I would have to go with “on the nose.” Too on the nose, if I’m being honest.
From overwrought dialogue to themes that are so glaring and in your face that you can almost feel M. Night Shyamalan elbowing you in the ribs and whispering, “See what I did there?” (An issue pervasive in his entire filmography.)
This film is about as subtle as a gunshot and painfully predictable. A detail that was so aggressive that I almost found it funny was Shyamalan’s artistic choice to blatantly color wash everything. If it had to do with Mr. Glass, you can bet it was bathed in purple light… even if it made no logical sense for that to be the case. Same goes for the other two, color-coordinated main characters.
Shyamalan operates under the assumption that his viewers are idiots and falls just short of handing out a connect the dots activity book with each ticket purchase.
The predictability and spoon feeding in this film, however, is its greatest irony because this is a film that only works under the assumption that you very clearly remember the details of a film that came out almost twenty years ago. To be honest, if not for the diligence of Alamo Drafthouse’s pre-show I may have been missing major points of this film based on the fact that it’s just been a while since I’ve seen “Unbreakable.”
That’s what we in the business call bad storytelling.
Regrettably, the bad storytelling does not end with poor assumptions and an overreliance on the previous material. The central conflict of the story and the big twist ending are… not even remotely urgent. Furthermore, big gaping plotholes make a smoking crater out of the film’s climax.
It’s baffling at the moment and rage-inducing, the longer you think about it.
Perhaps that twenty-year gap is the biggest thing working against “Glass.” Let’s be honest, we live in an era of not just market saturation when it comes to superhero films, but we’ve got massive operations like Marvel Studios pumping out a blockbuster roughly twice a year.
There’s a formula and an expectation involved.
Audiences need consistency and, more than that, they need careful planning. No doubt “Unbreakable” was a great film and there was a moment in time where that film could have ushered in the great superhero renaissance. Instead what happened was 2016’s “Split” was a surprise success and only then did the studios have the confidence to jump on the bandwagon and rush an ending to a trilogy.
Long story short: The biggest hurdle of “Glass” is that its audience has either lost interest or will not have that solid foundation of understanding and, frankly, giving a shit about these characters, coming into the film.
Furthermore, “Glass” woefully underutilizes that first two (awesome!) films that brought it to this point. I became a believer in James McAvoy when I saw him bring these incredibly diverse and distinct characters in The Horde to life. “Split” laid out this really interesting lore that was bursting with opportunity and potential. We see none of that in “Glass.”
It’s not just the first two films in the trilogy that don’t get their dues. “Glass” is populated by amazing actors and incredible performances that lead absolutely nowhere. We’re playing a sick game of “just the tip” where we’ve got a great character, wonderfully portrayed, and the assurance that there is something more there… that we never quite get to see.
Anya Taylor-Joy, if you’re reading this, “The VVitch” was great and you deserve so much better than this.
If I can compliment this film on anything, it is the all in performances given by every cast member. Well done.
It’s a real shame that “Glass” has the problems that it does because this is actually the type of superhero film that I’d actually like to see. Don’t get me wrong, I ride the Marvel hype train into the sunset, but there are films like “Hancock” that bring this great human element to the superhuman. Those are much more interesting stories that we are sorely lacking, in the current cinematic landscape.
My verdict on “Glass:” It’s fine.
I stand by every criticism that came previously, but with the acknowledgment that while this doesn’t make the movie good it doesn’t inherently make it bad. There’s some fun stuff in here. It’s an entertaining watch. It’s flawed, but I think it’s wise to manage expectations where Shyamalan is involved.
Would I make a point of catching it in theaters? No. Would I be above playing it on some quiet evening at home? Not at all.
Featured image credit: Jessica Kourkounis | © Universal Pictures
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. She currently serves as the Lead Film Contributor for Shuffle Online; other notable bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.