Release: January 18, 2019
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Beast, Bruce Willis as David Dunn/The Overseer, Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass, Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Running Time: 129 minutes
The sequel to 2016’s Split and 2000’s Unbreakable, this third and final entry in director M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy finds Unbreakable protagonist David Dunn tracking down criminals as superpowered vigilante “The Overseer” with his now-adult son acting as his clandestine handler. After coming into conflict with The Beast, a police organization arrives and takes both David and The Beast into custody and transports them to an asylum where Elijah Pierce, a.k.a. Mr. Glass, is already being held. Here, Dr. Ellie Staple tries to convince all three men that their superpowers are simply a byproduct of delusion. Mr. Glass devises an escape plan to break himself, The Beast, and David out of the asylum. During a parking lot showdown between David and The Beast, a SWAT team arrives to pacify the situation. The situation ends with the deaths of David, Glass, and the Beast, as well as the revelation of a shadowy conspiracy to suppress the existence of superhuman individuals.
Though technically a superhero film, Glass bears little resemblance to its MCU and DCEU contemporaries. The visuals are not bright and loud, there is little in the way of computer effects, and the script is shockingly devoid of “Whedonism.” In short, it is a film that harkens back to the late 90s and early 00s comic book films that paved the way for the current onslaught of cape pictures. It’s a grittier and slightly more grounded take on the genre.
M. Night Shyamalan may well be Hollywood’s most inconsistent filmmaker. For every good picture the man puts out, there is one that drags cinema to depths so deep that it is a wonder he hasn’t managed to singlehandedly make the entire art form collapse in on itself. Odd then that he should be on something of a hot streak with two good ones in a row in the form of the 2015 horror comedy The Visit, and 2016’s super villain origin/horror flick Split. Fortunately, Glass continues that streak, though just barely. Glass proves to be an entertaining film overall. It’s well shot, and acting strong performances from Willis, Jackson, and McAvoy help to elevate the proceedings. The film does, however, falter greatly during its final minutes with the inclusion of a diet Watchmen ending that leaves a lot to be desired. Shyamalan would have done well to clip the final train station scene and just have the film end with Staple in a panic over the implied revelation of her organization and their murderous programme to the world. While I will say that Glass is a well shot film overall, some of the first person shots could (and should) have been clipped out. During hectic moments in the film’s scattered fight sequences, these type of shots do a great job at reinforcing the tension of the situation, however, many of them come at times where they serve little purpose.
Overall, Glass is on the high end of Shyamalan’s consistently inconsistent filmography. For the most part, it manages to do it’s job in providing a mostly satisfying conclusion to his prolonged superhero trilogy. With a tone right out of the gritty and “edgy” comics of the late 80s and early 90s, and visual look to match, it provides a welcome contrast to the profligate silver age fellating going on at Marvel. While it doesn’t quite capture the level of quality of Shyamalan’s previous two films, it definitely doesn’t sink to the level of something like the infamous The Happening, or the ill-advised Jaden Smith vehicle After Earth.