Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is famous for providing audiences with jaw-dropping twists. Ever since he shocked the world with a killer reveal at the end of his debut feature The Sixth Sense, he has continued to surprise us with third act revelations ever since. His last feature Split unveiled his best twist since the aforementioned Sixth Sense, revealing that James McAvoy’s multi-personality sociopath Kevin Wendell Crumb exists in the same universe as Unbreakable’s David Dunn (Bruce Willis). Unbreakable was the second feature film from Shyamalan back in 2000, and easily one of the best films of his career. So now we have Glass, the third instalment in this unexpected trilogy, also bringing back Anya Taylor-Joy from Split and Samuel L. Jackson from Unbreakable.
My expectation levels heading into Glass were surprisingly low, following the onslaught of bad reviews which came out of the early critic screenings. However, I left pleasantly surprised. Whilst never reaching the heights of the two previous movies, Glass is still a creepy, tense and wildly original take on the superhero genre. In the current age of cinema and the ever-growing slate of superhero movies emerging every year, to see something as minimalistic and small-scale as Glass was really refreshing. Credit to Shyamalan for making a low-action, dialogue-heavy film in this day and age.
The story follows security guard David Dunn (Willis), who uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy), a disturbed man with twenty-four personalities who recently abducted a group of teen cheerleaders.
Just like Split, this film simply would not work without the brilliance of James McAvoy. Delivering a larger range of personalities this time, McAvoy is outstanding, giving each character a distinctive feel and persona. M. Night has created a remarkable character, one which he could’ve never imagined being so masterfully portrayed as McAvoy’s dedication to the role is sublime.
Our other two leads are also superb, if frustratingly underused. Bruce Willis easily delivers his best performance since 2012’s Looper, yet is side-lined for large portions of the movie. Though, there is a great pleasure in seeing him being committed to a role again, especially after many of his recent efforts seemed phoned in. Despite the title, Jackson’s Mr. Glass doesn’t even mutter a word until the film’s second half, but he’s always a delight on screen nailing the twitchy and menacing personality of his psychotic character.
From his stylish framing to clever use of one-shots, Shyamalan is certainly one of modern cinema’s premier visual stylists. It helps when West Dylan Thordson is delivering a pulsating and pitch perfect musical score, really matching Night’s direction. It is sadly his screenplays that are never up to the same level, which is very much the case again with Glass. His script is filled with avoidable plot-holes and a contrived plot which feels rushed. Split stand-out Anya Taylor-Joy is a prime example, used here in a perplexing sub-plot with McAvoy. I can see what Night was going for, but it feels misjudged.
After a strong first 20 minutes (easily the best of the film), the second act almost entirely takes place within the penitentiary where our three leads are held, with new recruit Dr. Staple (The always excellent Sarah Paulson) running the show. Always entertaining, this does slow down the pace and the film at times can feel bloated.
It all then concludes in a remarkable third act, one which will certainly divide opinions from audiences. Most of it worked for me, with a tense and well created final showdown but M. Night also has not one but three twists up his sleeve, each with a different level of success. It’s a finale with plenty to enjoy but not all of it works.
Glass is not the epic end to the saga which many had hoped and prayed for, but this is still a trilogy closer with lots to say and is not afraid to take risks. A second viewing is essential, so it will be interesting to see if I enjoy it more now that I know what to expect or like it less noticing different flaws, but either way Glass is a movie which will certainly get people talking.
Verdict: Not as good as Unbreakable or Split, Glass still holds its own as a solid conclusion to a filmmaker’s unique vision. McAvoy steals the show again and Shyamalan’s directing is once again fantastic, but his execution is dampened by a lacklustre script.
Best Moment: As Mr. Glass rolls ahead, The Beast is let loose on some guards