In Cinemas Now
You cannot contain what you are.
M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of Split and Unbreakable. Returning are Bruce Willis, James McAvoy and Samuel L. Jackson.
Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds David Dunn (Willis) pursuing Kevin Wendell Crumb’s (McAvoy) superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Elijah Price (Jackson) emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
- Bay Of Plenty
- Hawke's Bay
- Nelson-Tasman Bay
- Taupo-Central Plateau
- West Coast
- M. Night Shyamalan('The Sixth Sense', 'Unbreakable', 'Split')
Rating: M Violence & content that may disturb
For a lot of Glass’s runtime you can feel M. Night Shyamalan messing with you. It’s there in the way he keeps defying expectations, muting things that should feel special until they feel mundane. Super-powered altercations are staged on dreary days in the blandest possible settings. He finds ways to film action so that it’s mostly obscured. It’s going to prove frustrating for many viewers.
AND YET, there’s a lot to like here. For one, he gets a fine performance out of one Mr Willis (although he has a bit less screen time than you might expect). Likewise Sam Jackson and Sarah Paulson (natch), and McAvoy… well, if you found him annoying in Split this is more of the same, really. If you’re onboard, he’s bloody entertaining.
Another tick in the plus column: much of the film crackles with the energy of a fine thriller, albeit one containing ludicrous dialogue about comic books. Shyamalan knows how to keep you hooked, throwing out the odd red herring and threatening a whopping twisteroonie. Is there a Shyamalan Twist™ ? I ain’t saying.
The main thing to savour is what a downright weird dude the director is, and how it bleeds into the movie. Glass is really strange. It’s intentionally frustrating, makes you keep wondering where it’s all going, and has some very odd humour speckled throughout. Clips from Unbreakable pop up now and then (which unfortunately highlights how much better the earlier film looks), but M. Night expects you to go into this one already familiar with the two preceding films in his raggedy-ass super-trilogy.
The once-acclaimed director has taken a third pop at deconstructing superheroes, and tripped over his own feet sometime before the finish. But watching him tumble across the line is thoroughly enjoyable in its own right.
The Times (UK)
TimeOut (New York)
Total Film (UK)
Looks like it but doesn't feel like it.
It's predecessors propel it forward with spot-on performances, directing and cinematography; but doesn't go far on its own with an unsatisfying third act (and conclusion).
entertaining with a twist at end but disappointing movie - not as good as 1st 2 in the trilogy
Solid, entertaining, and often fun.
With The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000), writer/director M. Night Shyamalan delivered a one-two punch of great movies.
Unbreakable especially blew me away, with its meandering arthouse sensibility, languorous long-takes, stylised realism, all in service of what turned out to be a thoughtful, adult take on a superhero origin tale. Then, Shyamalan lost me with a series of increasingly dire movies - um, The Last Airbender anyone?
Then, 15-years after Unbreakable, he pulls a final act twist with the excellent return to form that was Split (2016), in which James McAvoy is revealed as super-villain The Horde, and Bruce Willis pops up in the final moments as Unbreakable’s hero-in-the-making, David Dunn.
Now, in Glass, Shyamalan ties up the trilogy, with Bruce Willis’ indestructible rain-hooded hero David Dunn, McAvoy’s multiple-personality villain The Horde, and Samuel L. Jackson’s brittle-boned mastermind, Mr Glass, all held captive by Sarah Paulson’s Dr Ellie Staple.
She's a psychologist specialising in delusions of grandeur. She attempts to convince the trio they are not super-powered, merely delusional.
The problem there is we know from the previous movies that they are superhuman, so it’s a gambit that does little to build tension, until, true to form, Shyamalan hits us with a twist or three, bringing the worlds of Unbreakable and Split crashing together.
Ultimately, Glass is nowhere near as beautifully shot, edited and scripted a tale as Unbreakable. Nor can it have the genuine surprise factor of Split, but it is a solid, entertaining, and often fun film.
It can be a bit heavy handed, telling the audience directly that what’s playing out is a metaphor, about geek culture and adults hanging on to the stuff of youth (in this case comic books and abuse), and needing to let go and be all they can be… or something.
There’s some clunky exposition (two portly comic book store customers discuss a comic book trope plot machination in front of a character, who suddenly looks up and… lightbulb!), and a few heavy-handed clues, such as when Dr Staple is about to operate on Mr Glass’ frontal lobe, and tells him she can’t wait to look into his “perspicacious” mind. It’s such a specific word and stands out amidst the ordinary language of the film, drawing attention to Mr Glass’ character as, well, no spoilers, but he’s a crafty one that Mr Glass.
Seen as a sequel to both Unbreakable and Split, sure it’s disappointing. It could have and should have been so much more, but judged alone as an adult superhero vs supervillains movie? It’s really not that bad.
Entertaining, fun, thoughtful, and with the emphasis less on action than on reflecting on the meaning of heroes and villains and their place in our culture, Glass has its faults but it’s still a darn sight better than say, After Earth.
So, take the negative reviews with a giant pinch of salty high expectations, and go for a knockout performance by McAvoy (he steals the movie from Sam and Bruce and never gives it back), a fun cameo from the director, and a great supporting cast, all in service of a comic book movie that dares to take comic book lore seriously and, kinda, sorta, sometimes, mostly gets away with it.
Blunt and Underwhelming
How incredibly underwhelming. Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy return with their supporting cast from Unbreakable and Split for this cross-over finale, Glass, but fail to meet the high expectations of the audience.
The film struggled with combining the clashing genres of its predecessors. With Unbreakable being a suspenseful drama while Split was more of a psychological thriller, Glass killed the energy of Split in the first act and ultimately failed to build on Unbreakable, showing no progress in David Dunn's character despite being a vigilante for 19 years now. Having a high action first act, before grinding to a halt for the second, it destroys the pacing of the film, to which it never truly recovers.
Despite the film being called Glass, it feels like that name was chosen purely to complete the trio (the personality of McAvoy's character being split, and Bruce Willis' character being unbreakable, and Samuel L. Jackson's character being as brittle as glass), as the film places so much more emphasis on McAvoy's character. McAvoy showcases several more of his 24 personalities, and while he does a great job giving each one their own distinctive touch, a large portion of the film is focused on him switching between identities, leaving Dunn (Willis) and Price (Jackson) shunned to the side for much of the runtime.
It makes sense as to why the marketing has put so much focus on mentioning the previous two films, as there are many flashbacks and callbacks to them, which would otherwise feel incredibly out of place. M. Night Shyamalan has never really mastered flashbacks or non-linear timelines, and it really shows. Each flashback ruins the flow of the film and is a reoccurring reminder that Glass is unable to stand on its own merits.
Perhaps it is simply a consequence of Shyamalan no longer trusting the audience to think, but there is no room for subtlety in this film. Everything must be fully explained, characters will spend entire scenes on nothing but exposition, and while the Shyamalan "twist" usually makes you see the entire film in a different light, it is not the case in Glass. The twist is telegraphed frequently throughout the film, through events and dialogue that you let pass at the time for the sake of the movie.
Sarah Paulson plays a new character introduced in the form of Dr. Ellie Staple, but for a character with so much screentime, we aren't really given any context, motives, or backstory. In the end, she comes off very one-dimensional.
Visually, the movie is mediocre. There are some stunning shots, using reflections among other things, and McAvoy, Willis, and Jackson still have their colour schemes from the previous films (yellow, green, and purple respectively), but otherwise, the environments are sterile, with some questionable wirework during the action scenes.
It has taken around 20 years for this trilogy to come about, but it still feels like the script and shooting for Glass was rushed. It spends so much time slowly building up towards the climax and then purposefully undercuts itself. Odd editing and inconsistent pacing don't help either. A disappointing end.