We are only a couple weeks into the new year, and this weekend one of 2019’s most anticipated releases is M. Night Shyamalan’s conclusion to his superhero trilogy with Glass. This has been a trilogy 19 years in the making, following the release of Unbreakable and then 2016’s Split. When I first saw Unbreakable, I was a projectionist, and I had to screen it the night before it was released to make sure everything was spliced together and the film played properly, and I just remember not really liking the movie at first. I ended up giving the film another try, and I found I liked it a little more. Now over the years I’ve seen it several times, and the film has grown on me. I’ve grown to appreciate the film to the point that when that final scene in Split plays and we got the reveal of David Dunn (Bruce Willis), I was extremely excited at the prospect of seeing this character revisited. Before I get much further, if you haven’t seen Unbreakable or Split, if you plan on seeing Glass, do yourself a favor and watch the previous films first, and even if you have seen them, it wouldn’t hurt re-watching them just so the films are fresh in your mind while experiencing the conclusion of this trilogy. With all that out of the way, how was the film? It’s time to suit up and find out.
As the film opens up, it takes place not long after the events in Split, and we see that Kevin (James McAvoy) is under the control of his 24 personalities, and “The Beast” is responsible for numerous murders. The media has following the killer and has been calling him “The Horde”. Also in pursuit of the killer is David, who with the aid of his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark, who played his son in the first film) are fighting crime together with their home base being a security shop that they run together. The opening act of this film is great; it flows nicely, and when we get to see David have his showdown with “The Beast”, it’s hard to not get excited for what is to come. It’s the direction the film goes from here where I can see there being disappointment in what follows from this point up to the end of the film.
We see David and Kevin are both taken into custody, and instead of being taken to jail, they are whisked away to a psychiatric facility where a majority of the film plays out. Dr. Staple (Sarah Paulson) has the men in her care at the facility, where her specialty is dealing with individuals who believe they are superheroes, and she has a limited time to explain to them they are simply normal everyday human beings. This is also where we catch up with Elijah/Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), who is in a catatonic state for a good portion of the film.
While I enjoyed the scene where we see Dr. Staple sitting with her three patients, it’s a sequence that definitely overstays its welcome. After such a strong start, to see the film simply move to characters sitting down and talking about comics and their so-called special gifts may be a bit of a letdown for some, but personally I kind of liked how Shyamalan goes a more grounded route with his story and lets us get to know these characters rather just throw numerous fight scenes at us. Also, it’s always good to keep in mind that you are watching a film by Shyamalan and that things may not always be as they seem.
This is definitely a performance piece; McAvoy shines in this film as we get to see him shift from his various personalities; this is one where just watching McAvoy playing in this role is worth the price of admission. What’s a shame, though, is we never get to see Willis or the Dunn character really shine; Jackson and McAvoy are simply at another level here. This also brings me to Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) who is criminally underused here. In her few interactions she has with Kevin and his many personalities, we get to see some brief glimpses of this chemistry between the actors, and it left me wanting more. That’s basically the downfall of this film; it left me wanting so much more than what was given. This isn’t a Marvel film where there was a 100-million-plus budget to play with. Instead this was shot at a meager 20 million, and it seems every dollar was stretched and put onto the screen (though I would love to see the rumored 3-hour rough cut of the film).
By no means is this a bad film, but it never quite reaches its full potential. Though in saying that I do feel this is a film that will grow on me more with time; the film does bring up some entertaining ideas that unfortunately never get fleshed out and does leave you wondering just how the world would react if it were revealed that superheroes do exist and are walking among us.