Glass is an ambitious film from M. Night Shyamalan, who’s been seeking to establish his own superhero franchise. It is the finale to the trilogy of films comprising of Unbreakable & Split, 19 years in the making. The movie brings together the invincible David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the mastermind Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) and Kevin/The Horde (James McAvoy). It takes off from the notion that we have gods in our midst: humans who have metamorphosed via a mixture of latent genius and severe emotional trauma into superheroes or, in the case of the Elijah Price, archvillains. Glass tells a very interesting story about the human psyche and about how we view ourselves. But, before we talk about this film, let’s start at the very beginning.
Unbreakable is actually a very underrated movie, which probably didn’t get the attention it deserved because it was made in a time when comic book movies were the exception rather than the rule. However, that is not the case now. Movies are now plagued by the abundance of superheroes who generally belong to a shared cinematic universe. These movies may not be bad but they are certainly very formulaic to their approach.
Glass, a superhero film which tries to base these comic book characters in reality, certainly feels like the welcome diversion from the overpowered superheroes and their universe-ending villains. The character-centric narrative here with minimal stakes, or rather the absence of it, is what makes this superhero trilogy different from the thousand similar films on the commercial conveyor belt. This is one of the redeeming qualities which has made fans stuck with Shyamalan even through his dry spell. It’s because he always tries something original, for the better or the worse.
Glass is definitely a well-directed movie and thankfully Shyamalan doesn’t disappoint. The use of color in the movie, from the terrifying pink to sinister violet, is brilliant and does a wonderful job in setting up the dread-ridden atmosphere of the movie. Since Shyamalan had the same cinematographer from Split (Mike Gioulakis), it’s a beautifully shot film. The first act is amazing, where we see how David Dunn has continued to live his life as the Overseer after the events of Unbreakable. We also see to Kevin and how the two of them end up confronting each other.
However, it is the second act when things start going wrong and is in fact, one of the biggest pratfalls of Glass. The movie tries to merge two contrasting moods from two different movies. Unbreakable, which is undeniably a slow-burning psychological thriller, has quite a different mood from Split. The second act is quite slow-paced and may bore the audience at some points especially after the remarkable first act. The action sequences are great, and in surprising abundance, which is a clear deviation from the previous two films. Some people may be expecting more of the superhero action which was just hinted at in Unbreakable, and it does deliver especially at the beginning & the end. However, the decision to keep it minimal is what makes this trilogy different from the rest.
Let’s talk about James Mcavoy, who is easily the best part of the film. His acting is phenomenal & is worth the price of the ticket alone. His role spans over 23 different personalities- 3 of which, sadly, ended up on the cutting room floor. To see him reprise all these roles of the identities which live inside his head is absolutely delightful. The psych ward scenes are particularly entertaining where they incorporate some really good ideas. Samuel L. Jackson has also given a great performance, as expected of him. Bruce Willis’s character though, I felt, was pushed to the sidelined for the majority of the film.
One of the problems which bug me is the ending. Despite having pretty good action sequences, the eventful last act gets too meta, directly referencing comic books in many instances. It felt like Shyamalan wanted to really drive home the fact that this was a comic book movie. However, it is the ending which I feel is a major let-down and it ends up leaving a bad taste in your mouth. It is a bad way to wrap up a trilogy which took over 19 years to make. The story could have been taken in many different directions, but somehow it takes possibly the worst path. It just doesn’t feel earned.
Glass is definitely a breath of fresh air among the abundant superhero movies we see nowadays, however, it has many instances which leaves the audience not quite satisfied. Despite boasting some fine performances and dread-ridden atmosphere, the film is sadly less than the sum of its parts. It is weaker than either of its predecessors. It still has plenty of entertaining sequences and is worth the time and money you spend on it, mostly due to James McAvoy marvelous acting.