Glass is more about wrapping up a convenient trilogy than it is a story of its characters. The performances from James McAvoy, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson are strong, but the writing and the direction leave more to be desired.
I don’t mind sequels.
Really, I don’t. I grew up with them. In fact if the world wasn’t being decimated by bureaucratic fools and their super computers, I was watching the continued adventures of the Starship Enterprise, the swashbuckling heroism that is Han Solo and Luke Skywalker or the exploits and adventures of Indiana Jones.
Heck, even Norman Bates got a sequel. Several sequels!
Are you detecting a theme here?
M.Night Shyamalan is no exception. His 1999 film, The Sixth Sense raised audience awareness of his unique storytelling abilities with his character-driven narratives. (“I see dead people” still haunts me to this day and I didn’t even see it in a theater.) As with the characters I previously mentioned, Shyamalan understands how to create tension effectively, and in 2000, he introduced us to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), two people who were pitted against one another in a comic book infused story.
The film was a modest success, and for fifteen years, the world that Shyamalan created stood still until Split came along, introducing us to Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), who with his 23 distinct personalities held several teenaged girls hostage. At the end of that film (spoiler alert), David Dunn’s character make an appearance when Kevin’s 24th personality, “The Horde” breaks out of the Philadelphia Zoo.
Glass picks up three weeks after Split and sees David Dunn searching for The Horide. Visually, Shyamalan created a riveting first act. The tension and excitement that coated Split is present in Glass as Dunn plays the vigilante, something Bruce Willis does very well.
When they are eventually captured and remanded to a psychiatric ward for observation the story loses its steam and its drive. This story’s antagonist, Mr. Glass doesn’t have the same threatening characteristics as Kevin and his personalities and by the time we get to this film, Kevin’s personalities lose their luster.
Part of the challenge is Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Ellie Staple. As a psychiatrist, she tries to convince the three men that they suffer from delusions of grandeur and that she can help them overcome these thoughts of being superheroes, which is easily contradicted by Joseph Dunn (Spencer Treat Clark, Unbreakable, Gladiator) who believes his father’s abilities and a real-life super hero.
We ultimately learn the true motives behind the trio’s captivity, which plays as a poorly transitioned twist, building on another twist which then turns into a curveball. I got the sense that when we get to the third act that Shyamalan was indeed trying to wrap things up, but he felt compelled for some reason to shoehorn in yet another idea to the point where it just became ludicrous.
Ultimately, Glass‘s finale suffers under the strain of all the twists. At its core, Glass has strong characters and motives, even if their individual purposes got muddled.
Now in theaters, Glass is rated PG-13 by the MPAA.