By Jessica Owoc
January 18, 2018
Glass, the third movie in what has been referred to as the “Eastrail 177” trilogy from M. Night Shyamalan (with 2000’s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split), concludes the story of normal guy turned superhero David Dunn, evil mastermind Elijah Price (a.k.a Mr. Glass), and the multiple personalities of Kevin Crumb (a.k.a The Beast).
The story begins with David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the hero of Unbreakable, 19 years after he first discovered his supernatural abilities. Now working at his own security company with his son, it is clear Dunn has been in the vigilante game for a while. As he rids the city of petty thieves and small time criminals, The Overseer (as he has been dubbed by the media), sets his sights on the elusive “animal-like man” who has has recently terrorized the city with the kidnappings of young girls, The Beast from Split (James McAvoy). It doesn’t take long for Dunn to come face-to-face with The Beast and it’s even quicker that the two are caught by law enforcement after a destructive clash. Enter Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). She knows all about the superhuman duo and sends them to a psychiatric hospital to be evaluated. The same psychiatric hospital where– you guessed it– Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass has been residing since Dunn put him there all those years ago. Dr. Staple then reveals she’s been sent to convince the trio that their thoughts of grandeur are only delusions.
The best elements of the film include some suspenseful scene work which, when at his best, M. Night Shyamalan can pull off like no other. Close ups, a foreboding soundtrack, and low lighting all work together to create a number of tense moments that keep you on the edge of your seat.
Much like Unbreakable, Shyamalan uses color to represent his characters: green for Dunn, purple for Glass and yellow for The Beast. We see these colors throughout the film and at many times during important moments. For example, when Dunn’s son Joseph is in a comic book store trying to figure out a way to help his dad, his attention is drawn to the “villain” section. This is highlighted by neon purple, leading to a discovery connected to Glass. Each character is so closely connected with their respective colors that a stark contrast is created when we see them in a pink room talking with Dr. Staple. The contrast seemingly rips them from their identities as she tries to convince them their powers can be easily explained away. Shyamalan has frequently used color throughout many of his films to represent character arcs and developments and he continues to do so here with expertise. The tightly controlled visuals are a definite highlight of Glass.
However, the not-so-highlights fall into the writing.
Much of the dialogue was flat and seemed unnecessary. Sarah Paulson’s character at times appeared to be there solely for the exposition. Paulson, who is normally a powerhouse on screen, felt underused with lines such as: “Hurry, they are going to this tower, the tallest in the city” or when she’s explaining to the three main characters that they have exactly three days to go through her observation. Willis, as the older, grayer Dunn, was still as brooding and quiet as he was in Unbreakable. However, with a small amount of dialogue and an unenthusiastic performance, the humanity that Willis brought the first time around doesn’t translate.
The best moments came from James McAvoy. Reprising his role (or should I say roles) of Kevin Crumb, and Patricia, and Dennis, and Hedwig, et cetera, was a true delight to watch. As he cycled through the multiple personalities, McAvoy stole the show from the other big names of the film. His performance was also was a reminder as to why Split worked so well in the first place.
Known for his major twists, Shyamalan didn’t shy away from his signature move. However, Shyamalan has also been known to not stick every landing. While the connections between the characters and the usage of original footage from Unbreakable was a gratifying moment, the major twist felt like it was thrown together and rushed just to have an ending that tied up loose ends.
Overall, the movie had some enjoyable moments and it satisfyingly pays off the connection of characters. But with subpar writing and an ending that falls flat, Glass fails to shatter expectations.
Star Rating: 3 out of 5