Glass: Shards Of Shyamalan
With Split, M. Night Shyamalan picked up the spare and proved that he still had the ability to craft decent and enjoyable films. With Glass, he seeks to continue that, capping Unbreakable and Split with a trilogy that has the potential to start an original cinematic universe. However, as history has shown us, Shyamalan can be his own worst enemy. Will he shatter to glass, or continue to course correct his heavily tarnished career?
Bruce Willis (David Dunn/The Overseer) and Samuel L. Jackson (Elijah Price/Mr. Glass) reprise their roles from Unbreakable, alongside Split’s are James McAvoy (Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Casey Cooke). Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb's superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
First of all, it’s very nice to see Sam Jackson and Bruce Willis playing these characters again. The ending of Unbreakable has always left something more to be desired (since it ends in title cards like a biopic, instead of showing us the events unfold in their entirety), and Glass almost gives Unbreakable and Split the final chapter it deserves. Almost.
The film moves to its own odd rhythm on numerous occasions, but it makes for a pretty good ride up until the midway point of the third act, which is an anti-climatic letdown. Unfortunately, Glass suffers from the same affliction most M. Night Shyamalan films do, he undercuts the film’s positives by incorporating a bogus twist; he’s once again cut himself open with the shards of his creation and shattered the momentum of his career.
This time it’s not just one twist, but two or three, and not all of them are fleshed out or set up as well as they could be. As a result, they feel unearned, and by proxy, it sort of affirms some suspicions that this whole trilogy shoehorned its third installment.
M. Night’s focus as a director is fine, but his scriptwriting effort here is full of some pretty awful dialogue, which seeps into the performances on multiple occasions, causing them to come off a bit stilted — but that aspect sort of contributes to the film’s odd rhythmic nature. It’s really the twisty late game, a-ha! narrative play that shoots what would be an otherwise sturdy January release right in the foot.
Shyamalan leaves the story open for a potential continuation; however, considering what kind of taste the ending leaves in your mouth, you may not be interested in seeing what Shyamalan has up his sleeve next (although, given the amount of revenue Glass has raked in, a studio would probably open that door, which means that we’ll now have a mediocre alternate comic book universe to fall back on when the others become too cumbersome — yay us!).
The other peculiar thing about Glass is that Samuel L. Jackson is a backseat driver to his own film, which is kind of interesting given how he character nefariously operates in the shadows, but it would have been nice to see him be given more screen time. The film is essentially a James McAvoy vehicle and an excuse to have him play many many characters, which he’s incredible at. McAvoy is phenomenal here, and he weaves in and out of different personalities in such a gracefully convincing manner. Sam Jackson is understated and mostly effective in his performance, but doesn’t produce the type of quality worth raving over. Bruce Willis gives a very Bruce Willis performance that falls in between “I don’t want to be here” and “I kinda care.” Sarah Paulson ends up playing a larger role here than the trailers lead on, which could’ve made a bigger splash if it were handled with a bit more finesse.
Oddly enough, these characters embody the many shades and shards of Shyamalan; fragile as glass, unable to swim, and not as nearly as superhuman as he believes himself to be. When the dust settles, Shyamalan reveals that history is victor, that he just can’t save himself from himself. He’s decent behind the camera, and he can construct good stories, but someone needs to take the pen away when it comes to the ending. Maybe then he’ll stop Shyamalaning himself.
Recommendation: The film is worth a watch for the acting talents of James McAvoy alone; however, fans of these characters or M. Night Shyamalan (if there’s any of you still left out there), should give this a shot, but keep your expectations low and brace for the twists.
Rating: 2.5 McAvoys outta 5.
What did you think? Did you feel like Shyamalan dropped the ball? Did he blow you away? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!