DFTG Reviews Glass: It Will Not Shatter Your Expectations
Among the big name film directors of the modern era, perhaps none have faced a wider spectrum of perceived quality and public favorability like M. Night Shyamalan. The filmmaker rose to popularity in the 1990s with his smash hit film The Sixth Sense, and led many to believe that he would be another great auteur filmmaker like Tarantino and Rodriguez to usher in a new era of filmmaking with his unique visual style and cultural influence. While his immediate follow up films were serviceable, but not quite runaway masterpieces, most of his films since The Village in 2004 have all been critically panned as some of the worst films of their respective release years.
Yet this societal perception of Shyamalan shifted a few years ago with the release of Split, which surprised audiences with it not only being a remarkable film in its own right, but also providing a proper signature Shyamalan twist ending which revealed the film to actually share the same film universe as his 2000 movie Unbreakable. With such a redemptive and newsworthy release as this, Shyamalan apologists have been anticipating his latest film as both a confirmation of his return to high quality filmmaking and a proper evolution of two of his best films. Alas, it seems that Glass will not quite shatter these expectations.
Glass is the latest film to be directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and it exists as a simultaneous sequel to two of his most highly acclaimed films: Unbreakable, released in 2000, and Split, released in 2016. Several actors reprise their roles from these films, including Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard from Unbreakable, as well as James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy from Split. The plot follows the threads from both of the previous films and intertwines its characters.
Following the superhero comic book deconstruction plot of Unbreakable, Willis’s David Dunn has continued in the vigilante work that he begun in Unbreakable, with his son Joseph providing him aid remotely. Using his heightened sense of intuition, he happens upon McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb from Split, who has continued his abduction of innocent victims under the various alternate personas that inhabit his mind. The quarrel between the two super-human individuals is interfered with by a new, mysterious and well-armed organization, led by Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Ellie Staple.
The pair of strong beings are taken into the organization’s custody, which just so happens to reside in the psychiatric institution housing Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price from Unbreakable, who has seemingly remained highly sedated and inert for years. The plot then follows how these individuals adjust to their life in the enclosed facility, and the studies done on them that intend to have their abilities rationally explained and their comic book ideologies deconstructed.
Most of Glass takes place in or around the mental institution housing these would be super villains and hero, and considering the nature of their solitary confinement and Jackson’s character, now fully donning the moniker of Mr. Glass yet posing as an invalid, these special characters spend relatively little of the film actually interacting with each other. Instead of that promising collection of interactions, the focus is more on each of the three’s relationships with Dr. Staple, the facility staff and the family member/emotional connection source of each to let their characterizations be shown. However, little motivation or emotional resonance is given for each of these dynamics, and there is hardly a sense of urgency or stakes felt with the imprisonment of the three leads, so there is little tension to be found or any need for the characters to break out of their confinement in a timely manner. Not to mention, Taylor-Joy’s character from Split feels like a contrived reprisal only so the plot can have the possibility of Kevin’s need to return and control his various identities. The plot also implies a setup for a climatic end battle location that the film clearly would not have had a budget for, which is acceptable, but ultimately feels like an unnecessary teasing of a more cinematic pinnacle.
Glass is by no means an awful film or a slog to watch. However its promise of a crossover film plays less like an event on the level of heroes meeting for the first time in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, and more like a two-part tv crossover special that could, and should, have delivered more considering the years of buildup. If you are a fan of either Unbreakable or Split, you will probably enjoy seeing more of those films’ central characters, which are still exceptional performances. For everyone else less attached to these supposed titans, you might find that they actually were quite Breakable all this time.
Review score: 6/10
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Cory Lara2037 Posts
A royally radical and totally tubular 90s kid, Cory has a passion for all things nerdy, particularly gaming and nostalgia. While an accountant by day, he strives to be as creative and humorous as possible in his free time, be it here writing on Don't Feed the Gamers, or making dumb satirical posts on his Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.