In Theaters: Glass

Glass (2019)
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

Long before super hero movies were all the rage. Before Christopher Nolan was hailed as a genius for making a trilogy of dark, gritty, down to Earth Batman films. M. Night Shymalan blazed that trail with the 2000 movie Unbreakable. Apparently he was ahead of his time because we didn’t get a follow-up until 2016 when Split was released. Split introduced us to Kevin Wendell Crumb and, more importantly, The Beast. Our hero finally had a villain. Now we have Glass, the third and final chapter in this trilogy. It feels very much like the last film in a trilogy too. Don’t see Glass if you haven’t seen the first two. You’ll be able to piece the story together but it won’t be nearly as effective.

Right up front it should be noted that I wouldn’t call Glass a horror film. There has been a lot of buzz in the horror community about it because Split was very much a horror movie and the expectation was that this one would follow suit. Glass is much closer in feel to Unbreakable. It’s a modern day, real world superhero story. There is plenty of violence but there is surprisingly little blood as a result of it. There is a little but not much. The Beast remains scary but he’s only a third of the story this time around, along with our hero David Dunn and the mastermind Mr. Glass.

That’s where Glass fits into the trilogy. Now, how is it as a movie? The early opinions have been widely varied on this one. I wanted it to be great but it couldn’t stop refusing to live up to it’s potential. Ultimately it’s held back by two glaring issues. The first is it’s underwhelming climax. The entire movie is leading up to a showdown between The Beast and David Dunn. From the very beginning that’s what we want to see and we do get that showdown but it does not give us the payoff we have been waiting for. The scene has a bit of superhero fighting mixed with a bunch of dialogue and interference from side characters. These things are all needed for the story but they have to step aside for a minute and let this battle take center stage, that never really happens. Instead we get a fight that keeps starting and stopping so people can talk or so we can know what someone else is doing. You leave the theater feeling cheated.

The only other thing that I really didn’t like was the number of tight shots. Have you ever been in public and gotten stuck behind someone who is walking slowly and you just want to get around them but you can’t and you start to get anxious? A lot of this movie feels like that. I have no doubt that it’s intentional. Shyamalan is an incredible director and he knows how to shoot a film. I just don’t get why he was trying to make it feel claustrophobic and because I couldn’t figure out the point of doing it I was annoyed by the fact that it was happening.

Glass is a good movie and I think it is safe to say that we are seeing the renaissance of M. Night Shyamalan. He came out of the gates white hot with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. Then he cooled off substantially. In the last few years he has released the underrated The Visit along with Split and now Glass. Things seem to be trending up for him and I’m happy about that. As I’ve said already, he’s an incredible director and, tight shots aside, he does do some good things here. Much of Glass is beautiful to look at, which is a huge accomplishment considering that the vast majority of the story takes place on the grounds of a mental hospital in Philadelphia (not exactly the most picturesque of locations). He also makes terrific use of color throughout the movie.

The performances shine all the way through. All of the major players are back. Bruce Willis seems to be beyond his days of trying to stretch his acting chops, you know exactly what you’re going to get when he is in a movie and that’s exactly what you get in this one (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, by the way). Samuel L. Jackson is back as Mr. Glass. His performance is almost too much fun to watch. He’s the mastermind behind the whole thing and Jackson plays the role with delight. James McAvoy plays Kevin Wendell Crumb and all 23 of his personalities. He was a force of nature in Split and his work here is just as good. The other major role in this story is a new character, Dr. Ellie Staple, played by Sarah Paulson. It’s hard to stand out in a cast when you have three other talented actors playing larger than life roles while you’re playing a doctor but Paulson delivers. As gripping as I found the story and as beautiful as I found the film, the performances are what really make Glass.

Glass isn’t a horror film and a lot of people may be disappointed by that, coming after Split and being produced by Blumhouse. It does have some dark elements though and it serves as a solid conclusion to this trilogy even if it falls just short of being a great film.

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