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Review: Glass (2019)

Glass (2019)

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Premise: A follow up to Unbreakable and Split. Indestructible vigilante David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is captured and incarcerated in a mental health facility along with multiple personality Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) and criminal mastermind Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson).

What Works: Unbreakable was released in 2000, before superhero films took over Hollywood the way they have now. That film was one of M. Night Shyamalan’s earliest directorial efforts and it was a thoughtful take on superheroes and mythology and what those stories mean for us. Split was released in 2016 and it was a darker, more exploitative film. Shyamalan brings those stories together with 2019’s Glass. The new film assimilates the storylines and themes of its predecessors quite well. Unbreakable was about two men in search of purpose and identity while Spilt was about the repercussions of childhood trauma. Glass continues exploring both of those ideas and pulls them together in a way that intelligently and provocatively comments upon our contemporary obsession with superheroes. It also plays with the conventions of superhero stories, working in popular motifs and occasionally subverting the clichés. James McAvoy’s performance as the multiple personality continues to be the most impressive acting performance in Glass. McAvoy transitions between different identities, sometimes within the same shot, in ways that are startling and completely convincing. The film is also very well shot with impressive use of color. Each of the principle characters is associated with a particular color scheme and the filmmakers use those colors or the contrast between them in ways that add subtext to various scenes.

What Doesn’t: Glass is a bit slow. The first half of this film retreads a lot of the same themes and ideas established in Unbreakable and Split. The story takes a while to get going and once it does the film doesn’t take full advantage of the characters. Elijah, played by Samuel L. Jackson, spends most of the first half of Glass in a catatonic state and David, played by Bruce Willis, doesn’t do much. The conflict of Glass isn’t so much among its three supermen but rather between them and a psychologist (Sarah Paulson) who tries to convince these men that their powers are a delusion. We already know the reality of their powers so that plotline doesn’t really go anywhere and Elijah and David don’t come into enough direct conflict. That becomes quite evident in the ending which is unexpected but also underwhelming.

Bottom Line: Glass is a flawed but interesting film. The movie successfully brings Unbreakable and Split together in a story that is thoughtful and relevant. But the picture doesn’t quite bring this trilogy to the fantastic end that it could have been.

Episode: #736 (February 2, 2019)