Glass is out this weekend, and it’s a messy conclusion to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Eastrail 177” Trilogy.
Written and directed by Shyamalan, Glass continues the stories of Unbreakable and Split, and attempts to tie the films together. David Dunn (Bruce Willis), Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) are all sent to the same mental institution, where they are under the study of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). Staple attempts to convince the trio that they are not actual superhuman beings, but merely regular people with delusions of grandeur.
The film is watchable, but incredibly frustrating, which is not exactly high praise for a movie. You don’t want the conclusion to a trilogy to just be “watchable,” especially when the first two films are so highly acclaimed. But unfortunately, Glass tries too hard to do too much and ends up being ultimately unmemorable. Let’s break down exactly what worked and what didn’t work in the film:
This is something that could have fallen under “What Worked” or “What Didn’t Work.” On the one hand, a superhero movie that’s also a psychological thriller is brilliant. A superhero movie that’s set almost entirely in a mental institution is brilliant. It is somewhat questionable, though, to spend a whole movie making the audience and the characters doubt the superheroes’ powers following two movies that are all about making us believe the incredible feats that some people are capable of. But, if that’s the kind of head game Shyamalan is playing, that’s fine. It could have been a very deep, heavy, game-changing superhero movie (see: Unbreakable).
But while the setup is great, the execution fails.
2. James McAvoy
Reprising his role from Split, McAvoy plays a character with over 20 different personalities in his head. The way he portrays each one differently, and how he seamlessly transitions between them deserves an award. He’ll make you laugh with one, and send a shiver down your spine with another. His love and his passion for acting comes through so strongly with this performance, and he steals whatever scene he’s in. If you liked his performance in Split, you’ll have something to enjoy in Glass for sure.
West Dylan Thordson’s score for Glass is intense, it’s haunting, and it’ll stick with you after the movie’s over. It’s one of the film’s highlights, reusing a lot of the same score from Unbreakable and Split.
This is a very, very well-shot movie. Props to cinematographer Mike Gioulakis for his work. The cinematography feels unique; it stands out. Gioulakis makes you feel disoriented and isolated during tense moments, and it thrills you during action sequences. This is the saving grace of Glass.
What Did NOT Work
Glass is a little over two hours long, and while it’s not terribly slow, it does take a long time for things to get going. It feels like nothing happens for the majority of the runtime. Perhaps that’s by design; maybe it’s Shyamalan’s way of putting you in the characters’ shoes and messing with your mind. But it just feels like a drag, for the most part.
The dialogue in this movie feels very wooden at times. It’s stilted and overly dramatic, and it doesn’t feel natural. It takes you out of the movie, especially the way that certain actors deliver it. Speaking of which…
3. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis doesn’t seem like he wants to be in this movie. He phones it in, and his performance in particular reveals how unnatural the scripted dialogue is. Willis has been delivering these kind of performances for a while now, like acting has lost its luster for him and he’s just in it for the paycheck.
4. The Beast
As good as James McAvoy is in Glass, his Beast persona can be a bit too over-the-top at times. It straddles a very fine line. Sometimes, it’s downright menacing. Others, it’s just silly and makes you want to laugh. Also, it has no charm or personality about it. All of the other personas are great, but The Beast – the one that has all the hype around it – is weak.
5. Character Motivations
Nothing that anyone does in this movie makes any sense. There is an inordinate number of times where something happens and your reaction is, “Wait, what? How? Why?” All of the superhero stuff is fine, suspension of disbelief is one thing, but once you take logic out of a story, that’s when it begins to fall apart. Perhaps the most confusing motivation is that of Casey, the victim from Split. You can almost see why she does what she does, but it’s a stretch.
6. Comic Book References
Shyamalan tries way too hard to tie this movie to comics. There are so many ham-fisted and clunky moments where a character explains how the plot relates to a superhero comic (i.e., “This is the showdown”). It’s overdone to an annoying extent and again takes you out of the story.
Also, Glass features one of the worst comic shop employees ever shown in a film.
7. The Ending
The ending of this movie is all kinds of wonky. No spoilers here, but it’s just one of those endings that falls apart the more you think about it.
Have you seen Glass? Do you agree with this review? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @Popaxiom!