We all loved M Night Shyamalan’s 2000 movie Unbreakable, didn’t we? We all loved James McAvoy’s awe-inspiring performance as Dissociative Identity Disorder sufferer Kevin Wendell Crumb in the horror Split three years ago, and were all very surprised with the twist at the end. Perhaps those viewers who don’t agree with the above should give those movies a second chance, otherwise the third instalment in Shyamalan superhero universe may not be for them. Glass is the sequel to Unbreakable, 19 years in the making, resurrecting characters of the past and amalgamating them into one final episode in the trilogy. With the three heavy hitters Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson and McAcvoy returning to reprise their roles, the stage for the natural progression of the series is set and Shyamalan’s universe is ready for the next adventure. The question is whether Glass will prove to be unbreakable or split audience opinion.
The film begins as expected, reigniting the character flames – which we haven’t seen for a number of years – and updating the viewer on where they now are in life. David Dunn (Willis) and his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) run their own security company and live apparently quiet lives; but under his hooded rain poncho, the “Overseer’s” reputation has grown wildly. When David comes into contact with Hedwig (McAvoy), one of Kevin Wendell Crumb’s 24 personalities, the two clash in a fight that is only ceased when they are arrested and placed under the study of psychiatrist Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). United with Mr Glass (Jackson) who has already been admitted for a considerable amount of time previously, the three alleged superheroes undergo a series of tests and psychoanalysis. But the weak-boned cerebral genius Glass has other plans and hopes, with the help of the hoard of personalities controlling Kevin, to reveal the identity of the world’s heroes in true villainous fashion.
First, foremost and understandably, this is not a usual MCU-style superhero movie, so don’t expect large-scale fight scenes with buildings tumbling down. Unbreakable and Split were more character-based studies with superhero and comic book elements included as an addition to the story. Glass is the unification of these elements into a feature of intellectual prowess versus raw physical strength and, thankfully, from that we get to enjoy a number of brilliant character performances and developments all over again.
James McAvoy is nothing short of spectacular as he reprises his role as Kevin and the 24 other personalities, once again showing his versatility as an actor, performing effectively as ten or so different characters all with varying personas. It is great to see both Willis and Jackson embodying David and Elijah once again, showing the fans what they have been missing for so long and exemplifying how to keep a character fresh and adored despite such a long hiatus from the screen. Bringing these characters together for Glass should be an extremely exciting and riveting watch, however, the fusing of these various story arcs actually makes for more of a sequel to Unbreakable featuring Kevin Wendell Crumb. Even with that said, there is very little further character building for David and, as a whole, the three men don’t work in the same story at the same time. In pairs, the viewer would undeniably see their personalities click, but the divide, particularly between Willis and McAvoy’s characters, proves hard to mesh together in the same picture with any engaging plausibility.
Despite a brilliant first act and some shocking moments that certainly pack a punch, the strong start fizzles out, briskly resulting in a slow burner plot that will prove divisive among fans. As we reach the third act, a wider picture is painted, however, it does come across rushed and anticlimactic as the conclusion arrives. As a whole, the story feels flat, inheriting the themes and pace structuring of Unbreakable, but really not harnessing the successful elements into a form that results in a final destination that sells itself with conviction.
Much like the talent on screen, the talent behind the camera is unquestionable; the cinematography is engaging, with specific detail added for varying shots that mimic their predecessor depending on the character in focus. Shyamalan has always been known as a director who is happy to take chances, risks and distance himself from the conveyor belt of churned-out generic movies with all eyes on the revenue stream. At times this has worked in his favour, others not so much. Glass really isn’t a bad film in the slightest, yet the writing and particularly the choice of ending, given all the variety of avenues that could have been chosen, ultimately prove disenchanting and disappointing.
Glass is released nationwide on 18th January 2019.
Watch the trailer for Glass here: