Genre: Thriller and Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 9 min.
Release Date: January 18th, 2019 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: M. Night Shyamalan Actors: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Anya Taylor-Joy, Luke Kirby
icking up nineteen years after the events of “Unbreakable,” and several months after “Split,” “Glass” chronicles the continued exploits of superhero David Dunn (Bruce Willis), evil mastermind Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), and multiple identity-afflicted Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). Dunn, now dubbed the “Overseer” by the public, has increased his vigilante acts in Philadelphia – much to the dismay of the police, but to the arduous approval of his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). When Crumb kidnaps a new quartet of young girls, the Overseer begins vigorously searching for the madman’s whereabouts.
A chance encounter leads him to the Beast’s (Kevin’s most dangerous personality) lair and into a violent skirmish that results in both men being taken to the Raven Hill Psychiatric Hospital (the director’s version of Arkham Asylum). Under the watchful eye of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), an expert in treating those suffering from delusions of grandeur of the superhero variety, David and Kevin are bombarded with the possibility that their “powers” can be explained away by science. But when the hospital’s third special guest begins manipulating the staff and patients at Raven Hill, an explosive confrontation is set into motion that will change all of their lives forever.
No substantial reiteration occurs at the start of “Glass,” which means that anyone unaware of its place in M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy will be woefully unprepared. Since it doesn’t use the phrase “Part III” or any such equivalent, it might create confusion for audiences who enjoy going into films for the surprise of their stories. Nevertheless, it’s safe to assume that most viewers will have seen “Unbreakable” and “Split,” which no longer merely exist in the same universe; they’re officially chapters in a series.
This third piece of the puzzle opens with Kevin’s eerie yet comical cross-dressing persona, Patricia, tormenting a new batch of kidnapped cheerleaders, which brings into question why only a single female alter ego feels the need to dress as a woman, especially since they’re all aware of one another’s existences in Kevin’s mind. Later, it becomes almost a hassle to keep shifting clothing – or for the Beast to tear away his garb just so he can seem more beastly, despite maintaining a self-aware intelligence concerning his mental companions. Meanwhile, David has found himself a Robin to his Batman, in the form of his faithful son – played by Clark, who miraculously embodied the younger version of the character in “Unbreakable” from nearly two decades ago. Typically, a child actor wouldn’t reprise such a role.
The use of screeching violins and other dissonant sounds has amplified from “Split,” working tirelessly to generate anticipation. Curiously, a large percentage of numerous sequences is primarily careful building to what should be a climactic, shocking revelation or reveal – yet because so much time is devoted to their elaborations, the payoff is frequently minimal. Expectations will be insatiably high. And, strangely, these scenes are inundated with close-ups, which grow in number so rapidly that they become intrusive.
Of all the superhero derring-do going on, Anya Taylor-Joy’s remarkably normal teen survivor is still one of the most interesting roles (also returning from “Split”), interacting well with McAvoy’s nuanced psycho. Problematically, Paulson’s doctor specializes in treating superhero-based delusions of grandeur, which she verbalizes repeatedly using the words “superhero” and “comic books,” which sound very unlike what a clinical psychiatrist would say. It’s reminiscent of vampire movies in which the term “vampire” is never spoken; here, a certain realism would have been greater were it not for the steady repetition of hokey phrases, overtly restating comic book staples as the blueprints for Shyamalan’s narrative.
“Would it surprise you to hear that more and more people have this delusion?” Even though “Unbreakable” attempted to introduce – with intermittent subtlety and effectiveness – the concept of superheroes living among common people, “Glass” practically becomes an outright superhero movie through its combat sequences, wherein larger-than-life feats are traded in broad daylight. Many of these moments should have been toned down so that the suspension of disbelief could have been easier to uphold. A subplot of debunking superhuman activities briefly returns the more appropriate, sugar-coated approach, but spoken references to comics and superheroes fail to keep their distance. The overarching themes of Shyamalan’s franchise sound somewhat unfilmable, yet his players tackle the subjects with enough sincerity that they work part of the time; when the seriousness inevitably crumbles, the actors are left to deliver sloppy lines and tactless verbiage that once again make “Glass” feel like one of the silly comic book adaptations that succumbs to its own untranslatable components (such as neon-colored spandex). And then, of course, there are a few twists at the end, which are entirely expected with Shyamalan in the director’s chair.
– The Massie Twins