Glass review Bruce Willis

Year: 2019
Director(s): M. Night Shyamalan
Writer(s): M. Night Shyamalan
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: PG-13
Digital, Color, 129 mins

Synopsis: Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities. (Source)

For better or worse, M. Night Shyamalan has never taken the easy way out. At best, his films challenge expectation and defiantly go against whatever we think we want. This is Shyamalan’s greatest strength and weakness, and it’s a quality that’s on full display in Glass. With his latest, the headstrong director has closed a loop and come full circle on a story he started almost twenty years ago with Unbreakable. At release, Unbreakable was ahead of the curve. It dissected the comic book genre and used a cinematic narrative we didn’t quite fully understand in a pre-Marvel world. Now, Shyamalan has returned to the genre in a way that makes it relevant to the deepest parts of ourselves. Though it doesn’t quite all add up, it’s a bold vision that I find myself more fond of the deeper it sits.

Starting 3 weeks after the events in Split, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is hot on the trail of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). The latter suffers from DID and harbors a cannibalistic personality named The Beast, which has kidnapped four young girls. With time running out, Dunn finds The Beast and rescues his hostages before he consumes them. In the shuffle, both are captured by a psychiatrist named Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). Staple has been allowed 3 days to convince both Dunn and Crumb that their “powers” are nothing more than mental disorders. It just so happens, though, that the institution holding Dunn and Crumb is also home to Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), the villainous mastermind, Glass. After a spat with Dunn years ago, Price has been waiting for a rematch and is about to unleash his grand plan. 

Like Split and Unbreakable, Glass feels like another sharp tonal turn in the loose trilogy. It connects all the dots, but is also the most deconstructive, shifting with each act into what feels like 3 different films. Although it’s never boring, there might be too much story. A myriad of disparate ideas are forced to fight each other in order to breathe. Still, at its core, this is a slick superhero story that’s more about implications rather than showdowns. There isn’t a single crazy idea I didn’t dislike, despite their sheer quantity making them feel a bit distant. With so much up in the air, this chapter may not have the same brevity as its predecessors, but is engaging and challenging. The film ultimately never gives itself over to the brawl you think is gonna happen, and ends with a narrative gut punch that we could never see coming. 

Glass review Samuel L. Jackson

Performances are strong across the board. As the titular Glass, Samuel L. Jackson is as mesmerizing as ever. Jackson is able to tow the line between absurdity and conviction, making Elijah both brutal but relatable. The star-hitter is J Mac’s Kevin, who brings to life about twenty different characters this time out. As in Split, McAvoy makes a sharp distinction between his characters, but also accentuates the emotion behind each one. It makes for an incredibly complex villain. We have empathy with him even when we’re afraid of him. As Dunn/Overseeer, Bruce Willis maybe has the short straw. The overt hero of the story (or so we think), Willis only has a few short moments to have some fun, before his story is subverted. Without saying too much, Willis helps to nail the stakes, but his character doesn’t have the same resonance as when it was the focus of his own story. Charlayne Woodard, Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clark return to give each super powered character a human tether. Though they’re all fit in and are given relationships to balance the main trio, their roles don’t push them too far. 

I’m gonna be honest here. As a Shyamalan apologist, I wrestled with this film until the end. I walked out of the theatre questioning a lot of the choices made, but also couldn’t bring myself to dislike what had happened. Yes, there’s a lot that isn’t perfect, and the film spells out too much of its literal last act, but there’s an emotional resonance and sincerity to the entire thing. Looking back, it was obvious that the trilogy was never going to be Marvel-esque. Glass is something that feels personal and sincere no matter how absurd things get. Shyamalan lays it all out there. In a world of big-budget spandex epics ,this feels homegrown albeit silly, tying theatrics to psychology rather than physical spats. Shyamalan is no longer ahead of the curve with this one, but he also pinpoints why these stories mean so much to us, and that’s an admirable feat that goes a long way.