Director M. Night Shyamalan returns with what is hopefully his third and final film in the superhero trilogy that started with Unbreakable. Glass is a very strange film that moves with confidence marrying the cold and calculated style of Unbreakable while embracing the pure genre cinema that was Split.
Fans of both films, might find it hard to recommend Shyamalan’s latest because it is a bit heavy handed with some of the exposition. Imagine multiple characters acting like the film critic from Lady in the Water and you’ll have a sense of what I mean. M. Night seems to scream “THIS IS A COMIC BOOK FILM AND THESE ARE THE RULES!” in a world overflowing with comic cinema. Of course Unbreakable was released long before they became a huge part of our pop culture, but explaining to your audience what a final showdown entails is a bit much. Still, with all of this weird floating around, Glass has enough going for it to make it a worthy addition to the saga. It is a film that is true to the heroes and villains it has established and that is really all you can hope for.
After the events of Split, The Beast, just one of James McAvoy's incredible personalities is still on the loose in Philadelphia and he has a habit of kidnapping girls so he can eat them. Horrible stuff. Thankfully, the city’s mysterious vigilante, The Overseer (Bruce Willis) is on the job with his son running point at the batcave, er, their home security store. The two eventually clash but are apprehended by a mysterious group, the same group that is holding Mr. Glass. Enter Sarah Paulson whose sole purpose is to convince these people with powers that they are in fact delusional and are really quite normal. Things only get nuttier from there because the entire focus has been on McAvoy and Willis with Samuel L. Jackson just playing a sedated mess, or is he hatching a crazy ass plan with that genius intellect of his? Glass, the film, then proceeds to go off the rails only to miraculously find them again delivering a good if not oddly anticlimactic finale. Yes, you get a twist or two but the real strength here comes from M. Night just sticking to his guns, outcome be damned.
No one is bad here and in fact, that is what makes the film succeed even in the clunky parts. The real star of this film is not the titular character at all. It is once again, James McAvoy’s portrayal of The Horde with his multiple personalities that will blow minds. James is simply too good at toggling between the characters all scrambling for purchase within his soul. He shares a scene in the third act with Anya Taylor-Joy that is easily the best scene in the entire series. Emotional, gripping and a showcase for James to show his chops. Incredible work from both that I can’t dive too much into because of spoilers. Jackson is damn good as Mr. Glass but it feels as if he is barely in the film with his name on it. This is what happens of course when you are juggling three main characters, some are going to suffer.
Glass has some parts that will make you groan, but it’s also not playing by most film rules including those of comic book cinema. It seems to appreciate them rather than use the filmmaking vocabulary of the genre. This is what makes Glass so admirable. It is a superhero movie that is totally high on itself and that is fine by me. It can never be called a cookie cutter hero picture by any means. It ends on a mean note with a dash of optimism and I want to hear M. Night talk about the damn thing because I’m curious to see where his head was at with this finale to his very cool idea. Ultimately, yes, I liked Glass, but I will be the first to admit that it is so odd at all turns. I would also follow up with that is what makes it kind of magical. Fans of the series will definitely extract more out of it while people who have never liked Unbreakable are going to have a rough time at the movies.