You'd think that after a couple of decades, the consistent inconsistency of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan would no longer catch anybody off-guard.
But after 20 years of outstanding films including “The Sixth Sense,” co-mingled with mediocre fare like “Signs,” and the hot trash that is “After Earth,” I still found myself excited and optimistic about the final piece of his (sort of) superhero trilogy.
Those feelings were short-lived, however, as the final installment, “Glass,” failed to build upon the story started back in 2000's “Unbreakable” and taken to another level with 2017's “Split.”
Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass, James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde, Bruce Willis as David Dunn/The Overseer, and Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple in "Glass," written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Universal Pictures. © 2019 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)
“Glass” picks up where “Split” left off – with the virtually indestructible David Dunn (Bruce Willis) searching the streets of Philadelphia for Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), and the additional 23 personalities that live inside of him … or more specifically, the dangerous subset of personalities known as “The Horde” and a powerful overlord that the call The Beast.
The two violently cross paths and are shipped off to a psychiatric hospital to be treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a doctor that specializes in treating people who believe they are comic book characters. But it's not just David and The Horde in the doctor's care – villainous mastermind Elijah Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), the man whose terrorist attacks helped unleash David’s, is also there – albeit in a slightly altered state.
Eventually, as they are wont to do, the villains team up to hatch a sinister plan that will significantly alter the world for the worst. Against the wishes of his doctor and local law enforcement, it’s up to David to thwart their efforts before the world burns … he just needs to fist convince them that he’s not crazy.
Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple and Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass in "Glass," written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures. © 2019 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)
On paper, and even as I'm replaying the story in my head, “Glass” seems like an awesome final chapter to the story. That, however, wasn't the case at all.
The film is plagued by terribly slow pacing and a story that aimed for depth, but came off as aimless and scatterbrained. Simply put: it's not even in the same ballpark as its predecessors.
But what really hurts it is the lack of that “wow moment” that has become Shyamalan's calling card. And I'm not only talking about the big twist at the end. What I really mean is that one moment that jumps off the screen and forces you to remember it. Obviously, “The Sixth Sense” had its big twist at the end. “Signs” had the shocking reveal of what happened to the priest's wife. And “Split” had this really simple, but incredible, overhead shot of The Beast sprinting down a dark street illuminated by only a single streetlight. “Glass” had nothing like that to speak of.
It's not entirely without its moments, but they’re rare and every time the story builds momentum it's halted by an awkward monologue that often takes a subtle jab at the world's fascination with the extraordinary, whether it be good or evil.
As was the case in “Split,” the overall standout here is McAvoy, perhaps even more so this time around.
James McAvoy as The Beast, one of the 23 personalities that reside inside Kevin Wendell Crumb in "Glass," written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures. © 2019 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)
Last time out we saw Kevin, Patricia, Dennis, Hedwig, Barry, The Beast, and glimpses of the other personalities. This time we see all of those, along with most of the others, oftentimes in the same scene with a switch coming seamlessly in the blink of an eye. I thought his performance was greatly overlooked last time, and given this movie isn't nearly as good (not because of him at all), this will sadly be the case again.
I wouldn't even go so far as to call “Glass” a bad movie, because it most certainly isn't. It's just not a good movie either. It’s just sort of there – it exists and it’s generally watchable, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it during opening weekend.
Having said all of that, I can't try to steer you entirely away from it – especially if you've already seen the first two parts. You deserve an ending to the story, and while it's probably not the dynamic ending everyone wanted and that these characters deserved, it does put a tidy little bow on it.
★★ of ★★★★★