“Glass” is All Intrigue, No Payoff

“Glass” was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson and Anya Taylor-Joy. The film is a sequel to both 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2016’s “Split,” and is about David Dunn, Elijah Price, and Kevin Wendell Crumb coming together in a mental hospital to find out if they truly hold the superpowers that each of them believe they do.

“Unbreakable” and “Split” are two of Shyamalan’s strongest films to date, and the twist of them both being in the same universe at the end of the latter movie was a very intriguing premise to work with. The trailers for this movie certainly added to the intrigue, and I came in incredibly hopeful that this director that was once the butt end of jokes could continue this impressive turnaround.

The Good

Much like “Split,” a lot of this movie is carried by the performances, and two out of the three leads deliver. McAvoy is terrific once again as the man with multiple personalities, this time showing even more of a range of identities that Kevin can create, albeit in a bit more of a hokey way than in his previous film.

Jackson, even when mostly silent, delivers a great performance as Mr. Glass, easily being my favorite of the three. Watching Jackson use his mental ability to always think a step ahead makes for consistently exciting moments from his character, and I appreciated what Glass brought to the table as far as developing storylines in the film.

“Split” has a lot of ambition, much like all of Shyamalan’s films before it, and that creates a very intriguing atmosphere for much of the first two acts. There is simply something off and something to discover with a lot of the build up, and what Paulson’s character brings to the idea of if these people are superhuman was a great way to bring backstories into the film.

The Bad

Sadly, also like a lot of Shyamalan’s movies, the payoff is just not that great.

The final act is very action based, which, in theory, should bring a lot of excitement and tension to a movie that seems to be a realistic take on superheroes. This idea had me hoping for something in the vain of “Chronicle,” except without the shaky cam. Instead, the action is mostly a mess, and leaves a lot to be desired in terms of building anything close to intensity.

A specific choice in the camerawork to use a GoPro-style first-person camera for the fights between Willis and McAvoy, are just awful, and completely diminish any chance that those moments could be highlights.

Willis on the whole is only a little better than his usual performance these days (this means he wasn’t very good.) There’s nothing particularly awful about what Willis does here, but he is incredibly bland throughout, showing how little he cares to put out another good performance since “Looper.”

The end, aside from the action, is quite messy. Along with being incredibly anticlimactic, it Shyamalan’s itself with a couple plot twists that, while somewhat interesting, feel way too over the top for a movie that feels quite subdued in its storyline for much of the film.

This is not a new trait to Shyamalan’s style, but it’s a little disappointing to see him once again not be able to reel it in by the time the credits roll.

Conclusion

“Glass” isn’t Shyamalan’s worst, but it is also certainly not his best. For all the interesting ideas that are created in the opening half, there is just not enough that pays off by the end. The action is lackluster, the conclusion is way in over its’ own head, and after an hour of getting me on board with interesting dialogue, “Glass” makes it feel like it’s all for nothing by the time the movie is over, which is disappointing after the somewhat-hot streak Shyamalan has been on.

Get tickets and showtimes for “Glass” here


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