For all of M.Night Shyamalan’s flaws in his previous work sans The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, I have to admire the guy. He’s one of those auteurs who relishes in what he does when stamping his trademarks on his directed films, even if it means derision and picking apart from critics.
At the very least, his recent works The Visit and Split are considered decent and entertaining fares while keeping true to the director and writer’s methodology.
So does this mean that Glass, his latest film that centres around the psychological aspects of people being superheroes and the institute that tries to wear them down, is worth the watch? Truth be told, my opinion is split in the middle. It showcases the best and worst of Shyamalan’s writing and directing in one fell swoop.
Glass, the final instalment of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy (named after the derailed train in Unbreakable), brings the story of Unbreakable and Split to a close. Our protagonists -security guy David Dunn (Bruce Willis), schizo-serial-killer Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), and brittle-boned super-genius Elijah “Mr. Glass” Price (Samuel L. Jackson) are all detained in an institute that tries to fix people of their delusions of being superhumans. The main person in the latter place? Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) as the psychiatrist in charge.
This being a Shyamalan film, there is way more to this than meets the eye. The supporting cast includes David’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), Kevin’s surviving victim Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), and Elijah’s mom Mrs. Price (Charlayne Woodard).
I’ll say this: the main cast delivers and its plot ambitious. The trio of Willis, McAvoy, and Jackson do their damnest in letting their exaggerated personae run wild while Paulson’s psychiatrist attempts to ground them, with ulterior motives unfolding piece by piece at the end. I also enjoyed the unravelling of Mr. Glass’ machinations and how the concept of superheroes and possible comics-fuelled delusions cross in tandem in Shyamalan’s trilogy universe in a broad scope.
The narrative starts out grounded; it’s when we get to the second half where the movie sways between over-the-top and serious, unsure of what it’s trying to nail even though we know deep down it’s attempting to end it with a bang. You’d be surprised that the film can be both patronizing and philosophical at the same time, especially when your many “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” scenes for Unbreakable and Split fans (or movie buffs in general) are followed up with scenes in a comic book shop where a vendor explains the intricacies of that famous 1938 Action Comics debut of Superman.
7 Years Bad Luck?
Did I hate it? Not at all, but I can’t say this the best way to end Shyamalan’s grandiose project. I can appreciate Shyamalan’s storytelling and myth-making in the broadest scope, especially the origin story flashes for David and Price’s backstories. Just like how the Incredibles film has Brad Bird addressing America’s superhero obsession, Shyamalan’s trio of films view these heroes as “sheltered” entities who are in fact breaking out of their reality in the world they’re in.
All in all, Glass has an interesting and fleshed-out setup its first half but fails to stick the landing at the end. While it approached its logical conclusion in this gritty Eastrail 177 universe, it still needs more polish in the editing, narrative, and framing department.
It’s like as if Shyamalan wants to make the finality of the series sink in but just wants to pull off all the stops with his remaining budget and energy, consistency be damned. And then there’s the obvious problem where filmgoers who aren’t in tune with Unbreakable and Split will get lost. Just like the Marvel movies, do your research and homework before paying for your ticket online, guys and gals.
Perhaps Glass needed to take some cues from Unbreakable for its climax, which was a simple tale of a guy who comes to terms with his place in the universe. The theatrics and twists are fine but needed to tune themselves down to second gear in retrospect.
FINAL RATING: 5/10