By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Glass is an overstuffed and ridiculous entry in Shyamalan’s cinematic universe that tries to make grand statements about our obsessions with superheroes, but ultimately falls flat from a flawed and clunky script, redundant characters, and an all round lack of that gritty realism that the previous two films had.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Glass is set soon after the events of 2017’s Split and sees villains ‘The Horde’ (James McAvoy) and ‘Mr Glass’ (Samuel L. Jackson), and good guy ‘The Overseer’ (Bruce Willis) locked away in a Philadelphia mental asylum to be rehabilitated by psychiatrist and specialist in the ‘superhero delusion’ field Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson).
It’s no secret that the not so modest Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) has had a rough run with both fans and critics alike in recent years. His films grew substantially worse, and his cameos grew substantially bigger. He did however, redeem himself with Split – a Blumhouse produced thriller that was sharp as a tack and threw a last minute curveball so far out of left field that it made The Sixth Sense’s dead Bruce twist look like a cheap parlour trick. It also gave McAvoy a lot to play with and the actor was even considered for awards season at one point.
McAvoy still shines here, but the problem is, is that we’ve seen it all before. Glass seems to rely so much on the actor’s brilliance that it becomes monotonous and just plain frustrating. By the two-hour mark, you really don’t want to see the 9-year-old with the lisp anymore. Shyamalan milks the character for everything he’s worth and throws one plot device after another at the guy, including characters from the past (cue: Anya Taylor-Joy) which seem totally redundant here, just to get another outburst. There’s even a set of strobe lights in his room that forcibly flick through his personalities like some kind of nightmarish remote control. So many channels, but nothing on.
Speaking of redundant characters, Shyamalan manages to get them all back. Glass’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) and David’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) from Unbreakable both return (not Robyn Wright though), and in the beginning it works. The nostalgia of seeing them together brought back wonderful memories of seeing Unbreakable for the first time, which really was a fantastic film.
However, Glass totally lacks that gritty realism that the previous two films had. Everything is out in the open and played up to extremes. Sarah Paulson’s Dr Staple has bizarre motivations that chop and change and never really seem to make any sense.
The asylum itself also makes no sense. First of all, it has maybe the worst security I’ve ever seen in a film. The ‘100 cameras’ are rendered useless when the staff either arrive to work late, or just don’t bother to check them at all, and then there’s the gigantic pink room where Staple holds a meeting with all three troublemakers, for well, I still don’t really know.
Visitors also come and go as they please, including Taylor-Joy’s Casey Cooke who is also apparently free to talk to the man that almost ate her alive in the previous film… Yeah, and where are the police?
It also wouldn’t be a Shyamalan film without a twist or two, and make no mistake, they’re there. However, most of them are poorly executed, predictable and by the time the uneventful finale comes around, you just don’t even care anymore.
Despite decent performances from all in question, there’s really no interesting development with any of their characters, except Glass, who has become so ‘mastermind’ that it’s laughable. How did he become such a computer whiz after all those years locked up? Unbreakable was in the year 2000, and that was a long time ago.
I’m still not really sure what kind of movie Shyamalan was trying to make here. There are a few scary moment with ‘The Beast’ but nothing compared to that bar-bending horror show in Split. The film relies a lot on action scenes and tries to make some kind of a half-assed statement about how unhealthy our obsessions with superheroes and pop culture are. Cut to: yet another twist. Oh, so maybe now they’re not?
BUT, the film is shot incredibly well and Split composer West Dylan Thordson returns for another ripper of a soundtrack. That’s about all you can take away from this film.
Glass is a massive disappointment. Go home and just watch Unbreakable and Split again.
Now showing in Czech cinemas.