Spoilers will hold the light.
I don’t know exactly why I skipped watching this one. I will not claim to have the foresight to know how it was going to turn out, I just felt it was the wrong time with the wrong set of characters to try to do a movie like this one. It’s one of those films that you’ve kinda wish somebody would made but it felt like too soon. I love meta films that explore superheroes with real world physics, laws and consequences. This one is not exactly it, although you could be forgiven to think it is.
Glass is a movie written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. I don’t think it is a big spoiler in saying it acts as a sequel to both Unbreakable and Split, movies I did enjoy. They were not flawless, but they did gave us engaging characters and a somewhat thrilling plot. Glass is a lot more akin to the same vein than Unbreakable started, that is comic book heroes existing in the real world.
They are different in tone though. Unbreakable ended on the high note of the possibility that superheroes and supervillains exists. Glass goes the other way, starting from certainty of the impossible to try to bring it back to the realistic while the audience fully knows that the impossible will be true in the end. I think I’d prefer the movie to start on the psychiatric institution on a more realistic tone and slowly make the doctor doubt as it goes along. Obviously that’s not the plan.
In the beginning, we have reluctant hero David (Bruce Willis), multiple-personality patient Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) and drug-induced catatonic Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). McAvoy replays his character from Split to an astonishing degree, and he is the performer to watch here – but the setting seems completely wrong for him. Kevin and his personalities were one thing in Split, and he doesn’t really fit as a comic-book villain here.
Mr. Glass himself, when he finally appears does have potential to move the story forward. One might want to argue that he does, and you kind of want to root for him, but everything that happens is also more than a little bit underwhelming. It doesn’t help that Willis looks like he really doesn’t want to be here. If you are expecting them to have a confrontation in which they trade barbs or engage in witty repertoire, well… There’s a couple of situations in which those opportunities arise, but are just disappointing to watch.
Shyamalan does go all on here. My respects for that. But unfortunately everything seems forcefully wrapped up in the end. Everything that would constitute a reveal, is played up without no big realization to back it up. We’re supposed to be impressed by the outcome but it doesn’t really have any punch behind it. I’m not quite sure at some point what are we rooting for to happen. The final confrontation which literally happens in the lawn outside the hospital feels mostly like a spat, even with the police squad thrown in.
The other characters are a mixed bag. Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is too much over the top to be believable. Anya Taylor-Joy reprising Casey is surprisingly human. Spencer Treat Clark who reprises the role of David’s son Joseph, is more than adequate. Charlayne Woodard who reprises Mrs. Price needed a lot more lines given that the movie is about her son. Everyone else mostly just stands there.
I feel like I want to recommend it for budding filmmakers as an example of how failure to commit between your own world-building lore and the more realistic tones can result in a movie that feels half baked. Would it had work any better if we had concentrated just on Glass himself? Perhaps. Could Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Ellie Staple work much better as a more concerned, down-to-earth professional caretaker? Yes. And it’s really too bad, because it does feel there was a more enthralling plot in there if we had gone for a more psychological thriller and leave the heroics for another time.
That will do for now.