A bit later than everyone else, but I finally got round to seeing Glass. The Unbreakable review will follow at some point, I’m sure.
RELEASED: January 18th 2019
DIRECTED BY: M. Night Shyamalan
WRITTEN BY: M. Night Shyamalan
PRODUCED BY: M. Night Shyamalan, Marc Bienstock, Ashwin Rajan & Jason Blum
MUSIC BY: West Dylan Thordson
STARRING: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clarke & Charlayne Woodard
Rejoice! This movie wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. It was actually kind of enjoyable. But also, like Split, pretty stupid.
Set two weeks after the events of Split, Glass sees David Dunn, now known as the Overseer, on the hunt for the super-powered serial killer known as the Horde. However, before the two can settle their differences, they are caught by the authorities and taken to the mental institution housing terrorist Elijah Price, the infamous ‘Mr. Glass’, where they are presented with the possibility that they are not actually superpowered beings, and their ‘abilities’ are all in their heads.
Due to the way the plot is structured, Glass jumps into the action and excitement quite quickly, instantly drawing you back into the adventures of David Dunn (played by a Bruce Willis who actually seems like he wants to be there) and keeping you entertained as he sets out to throw down with James McAvoy’s Horde. This first section of the film is touching, thrilling and very well done, setting audiences up for an impressive movie. M. Night Shyamalan also once again cameos as his character from the prior two films for a very amusing little exchange.
The next section of the film, set in the mental institution, is equally fascinating, but in a different way to the first. Here, James McAvoy takes the spotlight, once again giving the same knockout performance he delivered in Split. Unlike the first film, he gets to cycle through the majority of his twenty-four personalities at one point or another, effortlessly stealing the show. In many ways, this definitely feels like a Split sequel first, and an Unbreakable sequel second, as the Horde really is the focus character here.
Eventually, Samuel L. Jackson also steps in as Elijah Price. Unfortunately, despite the title indicating that this film is his story (which it is in some ways), he is given very little to do, and by the time he emerges you find yourself far more invested in the stories of Dunn / Overseer and Crumb / Horde, as Jackson whittles off exposition and takes a backseat to play ‘the mastermind’.
Along with some interesting shots and an excellent score, both tense and empowering, the film continues to promise an impressive end to this trilogy, as it continues to amp up the stakes.
But as it enters the third act, things start to get a little wobbly. Various characters start giving annoying and awkward meta-commentaries on the nature of superhero films that only end up raising your expectations in a way the movie can’t deliver. Some of the dialogue starts to feel rather phoney, and the central premise of the movie becomes background noise, without the necessary beats to stop it from slipping into stupidity.
And then, of course, the classic M. Night Shyamalan twist happens. And it’s pretty stupid. What was a decent film becomes hampered by a new wrinkle that, fortunately, comes so late in the game that it shouldn’t colour your immediate impression of the film as a whole, but may start to make you question it’s events if you think about it any more than twenty minutes later.
Which I have because I saw this movie yesterday. Whoops.
To discuss the ending, I’ll be going to spoilers, so scroll no further if you haven’t seen the film. But if you want to know the rating, I would have given it four stars if it wasn’t for the end (but here’s the image anyway, in case you want to leave now with that sense of closure):
But because of that ending, I think it’ll slip down a bit. Scroll down to see my full and spoiler-filled thoughts on the film…
So. The ending.
At the end of the movie, rather than the bombastic fight that was promised, the three central characters have a scrap in the carpark of the mental institution. That in itself is not a problem, and if anything, makes the film feel more personal. But in the process of the fight, all three central characters end up dying, after it’s revealed that Paulson’s character is part of a secret society that has been protecting humanity from the reality of superheroes and supervillains for a thousand years. To this end, she’s been trying to convince these three that their powers aren’t real, and failing that, plans to kill them.
So Mr. Glass has his bones shattered once again after the Horde turns on him and slowly bleeds out in the corner. Which, all things considered, isn’t that bad an end for the character.
Then the Horde is calmed down by Anya Taylor-Joy’s character long enough for a sniper to shoot and kill him. Again, not the worst ending. If anything, it’s quite emotional, because it allows the prime personality of Kevin Wendell Crumb, as the actual main character of the film, to have a heartfelt ending, once again played to perfection by James McAvoy.
And then the Overseer is drowned in a puddle by a couple of corrupted police officers, who are part of said secret society. And any emotional beats are forgotten about as you’re left with the most anticlimactic death of a ‘hero’ seen on screen. It just makes the whole film feel so lacklustre.
Even if water is your weakness and saps your strength, surely a ‘superhero’ could stop two guys from holding his head in a puddle long enough to recover? It’s pathetic.
And not only has the ‘your powers aren’t real’ angle been almost completely forgotten about, but the film as a whole seems like it’s for nothing.
But not only has it been for nothing, but it also doesn’t make sense. Because there’s a bit of a problem with successfully convincing someone they don’t have superpowers. That being that they still have said superpowers.
In the case of the Beast, it works just fine (although to be honest, their reasoning for explaining away how he might be able to cling to a wall like Spider-Man was pretty flimsy), but David Dunn is still both super-strong and ‘unbreakable’.
The film is almost completely derailed by this twist that adds literally nothing to the movie. It undercuts everything that’s been built up, comes out of nowhere, and also has no real payoff.
The payoff would be that after the three deaths, it’s revealed Mr. Glass has leaked footage of the Overseer and the Horde fighting to prove the existence of superheroes, but that also makes no sense because EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS ABOUT THE OVERSEER, HE’S BEEN OPERATING AS A SUPERHERO FOR ALMOST TWENTY YEARS.
At the start of the film, he throws someone clean across a room with superhuman strength. His existence and whether or not his powers are genuine are never really in question.
AND IF HE DOESN’T HAVE SUPER-STRENGTH, WHY ARE YOU HAVING TO CHAIN HIM TO THE FLOOR? SURELY THAT’S A PRETTY GOOD INDICATOR THAT HE’S STRONGER THAN MOST.
Jeez, this film is stupid.
But most of it, as I said, is fairly enjoyable. So with the twist, I’ll give it:
But that’s with the understanding that, as a film in and of itself, without overthinking it, it could get away with the first, four-star, rating.