Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, & Sarah Paulson
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Split)
Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes
In the year 2000, M. Night Shyamalan released his second major motion picture, Unbreakable. It was the story of a man who was the sole survivor of a train derailment. Played by Bruce Willis. He is befriended by a mysterious art gallery owner, Elijah Price. Together the two go down a check list wondering if Willis has actually been given super powers.
Unbreakable is my favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie. It subverted the superhero movie before the superhero movie was re-born. This was 2000, Spider-Man was still two years away. We wouldn’t get Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe for another eight. At the time Unbreakable hit theaters we were not over saturated with comic book films like we are today. Unbreakable was the best comic book movie until Spider-Man 2 or The Dark Knight, take your pick.
After a rocky career that by rhyme and reason should have stalled out, M Night came out with Split two years ago. The story of a man who kidnaps and kills young girls with the help of his 24 different personalities. The movie starred James McAvoy as the man with many alter egos. The highlight was his ability to jump in and out of different characters with relative ease. Like most M Night Shyamalan films, the movie had a twist. Without revealing too much, the twist was that Split took place within the same universe as Unbreakable. It was a shared universe, not unlike the Marvel movies you see three times a year.
That brings us to Glass. Named after Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Unbreakable, it is a movie that tries to subvert shared universe movies as well as comic book movies again. However, Glass is a victim of diminishing returns. Split wasn’t as good as Unbreakable, Glass isn’t as good as Split. It’s a typical third movie in a trilogy. It does the job, but isn’t what you wanted it to be.
Bruce Willis is attempting to hunt down The Beast, the most evil persona of James McAvoy’s character. The two meet up early on, and brawl throughout the city of Philadelphia, where the two are arrested and put in a mental facility. Because super heroes aren’t real. These two are looked upon as crazy. Even if Bruce Willis was doing the right thing. A logical progression to the Unbreakable-Split story.
Sarah Paulson from American Horror Story plays the shrink tasked with convincing Bruce, James, and Sam Jackson that they are not characters in a story book, but human beings with actual mental problems. The sooner they realize that, the sooner they can be released from the facility. Of course, no one admits it and what follows is a pretty decent psychological thriller. Not an action movie.
Glass hinges on the twist. Like a lot of M Night’s movies. When you know it’s coming, it’s all you can think about. His movies work best when the twist blindsides you. He tries to do that here with multiple endings and red herrings. None of the endings really worked for me. Although it felt more grounded in reality than any other comic book movie of recent memory. But around the beginning of the third act, things take a turn for the worse. Watching this movie, everything felt like a clue. Every shot seemed to linger on something making me think “oh that’s something important”. More times than not it was my head playing tricks on me.
Not a total loss. Glass has a lot of good going for it. There’s some nice fan service to the two previous movies, which YES, you absolutely have to see the two other movies before seeing this one. The fresher everything is in your head going in, the better. I watched Unbreakable. Thought I remembered Split well enough to go in without watching that. I was a little lost for a few moments. I was able to come back quickly, and not be distracted. But doing your homework prior is highly recommended.
James McAvoy is the absolute star of this movie. As good as he was in Split, he’s better here. He jumps in and out of two dozen characters with ease. It is a seamless performance that he seems to revel in. Seemed like Samuel L. Jackson sat in a wheelchair, doing and saying nothing for 90% of the movie. Bruce Willis also seemed fairly muted. Sarah Paulson is terrific as always.
Glass often feels like a movie that got made because they could make it, not because there was any particularly interesting story to tell. The more the movie reveals itself for what it really is, the worse it comes off. It gets going, then stalls for a couple scenes, picks some steam back up, and then loses it again. A very inconsistent movie that didn’t work for me. But if you’ve seen the first two I think it’s worth a watch. If you’re new to the series and aren’t sure it’s for you. You’re probably best staying away.
Also, one final note. There is an epilepsy warning before the movie. There’s a lot of scenes with bright strobe lights. I’m sure most theaters will warn you. But I didn’t find out until I got to the theater. I’d hate for someone to buy a ticket, get to the theater, and BOOM can’t see the movie. So I think it’s important to get epilepsy warning out there for people.
On a scale of "See It/Stream It/Skip It"...I hate to be wishy washy. But I’ll say “Stream It” for the general public. With the warning of the longer you wait to see this, the more likely the ending is to be spoiled for you. So, go if you’re a big fan. See it. Fingers crossed you’ll like it. People new to the series can probably skip it.
If you liked Silence of the Lambs, Split, or Unbreakable you might like Glass.
2.5 out of 5 stars
First two acts were OK, but the movie falls under the weight of its conclusion.