Ambition is admirable, and effort should always be acknowledged, even when execution shatters to pieces.
Glass is the sequel to Unbreakable, the movie that arguably started the mainstream appreciation of comic books and launched the current era of comic films. M. Night Shyamalan has been trying to explore the art behind the graphic medium, showcasing the works of Alex Ross and nuances of storytelling, for almost two decades.
In preparing to see Glass, I revisited Unbreakable (I'll stay spoiler lite for those 18 years late to the party) and realized that there must have been a large aspect of nostalgia jading my recollection. The second act was too long, many shots were distractingly spectacular, and once the twist was revealed, the magic dissipated.
This grounded my expectations, yet nothing could have readied me for Glass. Glass, a film Shyamalan financed by mortgaging his house, shows all the signs of a director without oversight. It is lost, confused, and trite. The film seems to exist just to offer an unnecessary conclusion to a solid stand-alone movie because Shyamalan said a trilogy was planned.
Shyamalan maintains an obvious affinity bordering on unhealthy obsession for his own work, which is a detriment at times. This reliance on source material offers interesting homages, yet also major plot holes. To me, the movie felt like a collection of events that hit the necessary beats so that the sequel everyone needed was presented, but not the one we have been waiting for nor deserved.
Some of the issues were disturbing such as the encouraged relationship between Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey (a minor) and James McAvoy's Kevin (an adult serial killer). However, that does not diminish McAvoy’s performance, which was incredible as he showcased each member of the ‘Horde’.
Samuel L. Jackson shone, reprising his role as the titular Mr. Glass, but Bruce Willis would have benefitted from the sequel being made a decade ago. Willis’ age hindered the project, as scenes relying on him to be active became immediately jarring to experience.
Sarah Paulson was forgettable and channeled her inner American Horror Story, which Glass felt like through the first two acts. The film’s lighting was off and had a soap opera feel at points; it seemed as though Shyamalan thought it would be exciting to have a showdown at an asylum, so he sacrificed logic, pacing, and story to get his audience there.
I found myself wondering what was gained by experiencing Glass in the cinema and found the resulting answer simple: very little. Ultimately, as so many Shyamalan films do, Glass breaks when it comes to the twist. In the interest of being spoiler free, I will steer clear, but the double twist was not only eye rolling, it negated the necessity of the film. Essentially, by what Shyamalan did, he raised so many questions that any thinking-fan will have felt duped by sitting through two hours of build up with no tangible payoff.
The movie could have easily ended with Act I, yielding a similar if not better and more streamlined result. Glass was not bad, just forgettable. There are far better services of two hours during award season like The Green Book.
In trying to highlight comic tropes, Shyamalan fell victim to the clichés he was pointing out. His lofty goals will likely derail his resurgence, yet pad his pocketbook, causing him to crash back to earth much like the train of David Dunn from Unbreakable… all while landing softly and profiting largely.
The Skinny: Glass was fine. Just wait for it to come on Netflix or Redbox; unless you are a huge Unbreakable fan then go ahead and try your luck. Also, make sure to watch the other films. You will be lost without them!
Two out of four stars and a thumbs down.