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Film Review: Glass

Glass (2019)
Universal Pictures‎

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson and Spencer Treat Clark

So Glass is a sequel to Split, which was apparently a secret sequel to Unbreakable, all from the mind of M Night Shyamalan. The story takes place shortly after the events of Split, but 19 years after Unbreakable, which makes me think the whole thing was an afterthought, like Dumbledore, but what do I know? Glass brings the main characters from the previous movies together in one comic book inspired team up adventure, following the usual tropes you may find in a team up book, while also subverting them at the same time.

Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson reprise the roles of David Dunn and Elijah price from unbreakable, and James McEvoy plays The Horde from Split, and a series of events bring the trio together in a mental institution under the auspices of Dr Ellie Staple, played by Sarah Paulson. She has 3 days to convince them that they are all under an illusion that they have powers that set them apart from mere mortals, and everything they can do and have experienced is a delusion brought about by an obsession with comics.

As the film lays it’s initial premise, it’s safe to say that the first act here is perhaps the best part of the film. We see all the major players, all doing what we would expect them to be doing, in an entertaining fashion, and the whole set up is very enjoyable. David Dunn is an internet mystery renamed The Overseer, and fleeting glimpses of him doing heroic deeds in the shadows are causing a small reaction online, in other words, he’s Batman. His son, playing Alfred to his Batman, assists him as he rights some of the small wrongs that he encounters on the way. Meanwhile The Horde is up to his old tricks again, and another collection of cheerleaders have been abducted and it’s only a matter of time before their paths cross.

As we move to the films middle, we get the introduction of the other main characters in the screenplay, and as they converge at the hospital where the cast are assembled, the film slightly loses it’s momentum. I know that the script has a lot of things to juggle here, but the pace certainly slows down a bit. Fortunately there are some good performances, so it’s all watchable, and McAvoy does his party trick of switching between personalities very well. You can tell he’s enjoying the whole process, but it does bother me that despite being told there were 24 different characters fighting for “the light”, we don’t really ever see all of them. Maybe someone can count them one day, I’m not going to bother though. However it’s worth noting that when McAvoy becomes the Beast, he is essentially “Hulking” out. As he transforms, he is inevitably left only wearing his trousers, just like the “real” thing.

As we get to the third act, things have started to spiral out of control. Mister Glass, who is pretty much Lex Luthor or The Joker, has been doing what we would expect him to be doing, and finally gets to wear his purple Joker suit as all hell breaks loose. There’s a couple of plot twists, that you would expect from M Night, but as the final scenes unfold, I must admit I began to find my suspension of disbelief start to dwindle. The thing about the previous films, was the fine line they seemed to tread between our world and the world these people actually exist in. Unbreakable and Split were careful not to bombard us with the super powered nature of the leads, things could have been interpreted in different ways, however by the end of Glass, we have no doubt whatsoever that these people are super heroes and villains, interacting with each other in a universe inspired by Marvel and DC.

For me, the over the top final scenes clashed quite strongly with what we had seen before, and as a result I left slightly let down. There’s an incredibly awkward shoe horning of a plot, wedged in that we are given very little time to absorb or process, making the whole event feel like a Shyamalan twist for twists sake. I’m trying to stay spoiler free, but I’m sure if you see the film you will know what I’m referring too. It was just too much, and I’m sure there’s a draft of the film where it wasn’t included.

I felt there was a lot of missed opportunities, and that’s a shame, because I’m sure that this movie will fill cinemas, make money and be well received, and the ending leaves us with no doubts about the final fates of those involved. However, in comic books death is just a temporary condition these days, so who knows what M will do next.