Glass is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film that has left audiences more split than McAvoy has personalities.
When it was first revealed that Split occurred in the same universe as Unbreakable, fans were left with their jaws wide open and their minds hungry for more. And in a world already saturated with franchises and interconnected universes, a lot can be said about the success of Shyamalan’s own take on the superhero genre, nearly twenty years in the making.
So what exactly does Glass have in store for audiences?
As can be said with most Shyamalan films, it’s a mixed bag.
For a start, the visual style and cinematography is a work of art. I’ve always admired Shyamalan’s cinematography. The use of long wide takes that highlights the different actors’ prowess and pits audiences into the scene alongside the characters.
And as if it needs to be reiterated, the cast does an excellent job of carrying the film. Bruce Willis brings the performance that we know and love from some of his older work. Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clarke all bring their own awesome flavour to the film, but it’s James McAvoy who absolutely blows it out of the park.
Anyone who has even seen the trailer knows the immense talent McAvoy brings to the table, and especially towards the latter end of the film where things start to take a dive in quality (more on that later), it’s McAvoy’s acting that carries the film.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing David Dunn and his son returning to the franchise. Once again, he dons the iconic cape and fully embraces his role as a vigilante. When he is called to save a couple of girls from their captor (take a guess who that might be), we get the crossover no one expected to get until only a few years prior.
What Glass significantly benefits from is a unique premise.
In a world convoluted with comic book movies and cinematic universes, Shyamalan takes his own universe and puts his own little spin on it. He plays with the idea of people believing they’re super-powered, and puts these characters in an internal conflict with themselves, questioning whether they really are the super-powered individuals they think they are, or if they’re really just delusional.
And that’s by far the best thing about this movie.
The internal conflict works so well and audiences are left genuinely unsure whether David Dunn is unbreakable, or if he’s just slightly stronger than the normal person. We aren’t sure if The Beast is as powerful as he was made out to be in Split, or if he was just in the right place at the right time.
Obviously I’m not going to get into the specific details for fear of spoilers, but just know it’s a very interesting first and second act that gave me a good reason to justify the purpose of Paulson’s character in the narrative.
Then the third act takes a complete nosedive.
I think it’s common knowledge by now to know that every Shyamalan film needs a good twist ending. But where he decides to take the film after two very solid acts completely negates everything that has happened prior, maybe even in the other two standalone films as well.
The best way I can explain it was that Shyamalan wanted Glass to go in one way in the first two acts, made a great effort to build on that tension and character conflict, and then decided to give the script to one of those computer-generated story programs to finish off the third act.
It’s unbelievable just how much he was able to render everything completely pointless, whether it’s Paulson’s character in the story, the super-powered conflict between the characters, or even the whole question of whether they really were super-powered.
He wants you to know that it never mattered to begin with. And when you have two amazing films to back the film up, that is so disappointing.
Imagine if after several years of anticipation, the MCU just decides to say it’s all just in Tony’s head or whatever. That’s the level of insanity I can only attribute this ending to.
And onto another point, what exactly constitutes as a super power in this universe?
The reason The Beast being bulletproof or being able to bend bars was shocking is because Split was built up to be an intense, but grounded, claustrophobic thriller, not a superhero movie. That’s why that ending scene with Taylor-Joy and McAvoy in that cage is so impactful because it happens in a genre no one was initially expecting.
But when you bring all that into the context of a superhero film, you end up with a bunch of characters who are slightly stronger than the strongest of men, or someone who is maybe very smart but also very fragile.
There are so many plot holes and problems with the final act of Glass that a spoiler-filled review might be necessary. But that will come at another time.
There’s a point at the end of the film where they try to open the world and get the audience to think about all the possible super-powered people that exists in the universe. But given the examples that we’ve gotten from this film, I don’t expect anyone to be flying around with lazer beams shooting out of their eyes.
We might get someone who can breathe underwater for a little longer than the average human. Or maybe it’s someone who can run a little faster than Usain Bolt. And that’s the kind of ‘super powers’ that we deal with in this universe.
I really wanted to love Glass, believe me.
I am one of Shyamalan’s biggest fans and I love the passion and enthusiasm that he has for filmmaking. Recently I learnt that he apparently financed the $20 million budget of Glass himself, which is actually a huge gamble on his behalf.
He’s one of the few directors still working today that isn’t fuelled by the latest trends or what the industry wants. He wants to make his own films and tell his own stories. I really admire that.
So when I say Glass was a pretty big disappointment, I mean that while it had an intriguing premise going for it, a strong cast, and even great cinematography and score, it was the third act that ruined it for the entire trilogy.