GLASS
(**)
"...talented director and fine cast, but the movie is much less impressive than the sum of its parts."

Third Part of Shyamalan's Trilogy is Disappointing

(012619) Glass is the long awaited conclusion to the trilogy which began with Unbreakable (2000) and continued with Split (2018). It examines the nature of the superheroes and super villains in a rather academic and self-referential manner.

The film seems to suggest that heroes and villains are just flip sides of one another or opposite sides of the same personality. But this theme has been dealt with much better by comic writers like Grant Morrison and novelists like Robert Louis Stevenson.

Glass has a talented director and fine cast, but the movie is much less impressive than the sum of its parts. The film has some good supporting performances by Sarah Paulson (from American Horror Story) as a scientist studying superhero obsession and Anya-Josephine Taylor-Joy (who was magnificent in Thoroughbreds) as the “good girl’’ who escaped the killer, but the leads in the film were not always as convincing.

The story clumsily combines ideas from The Incredible Hulk, Silence of the Lambs and Fight Club. The film also combines elements of horror, mystery and action in a plot which is very dependent on following and occasionally violating superhero story patterns

The film was directed by M. Night Shyamalan (his full name is Manoj Nelliyattu Shymamalan) whose scripts were very influenced by the works of Steven Speilberg and the Twilight Zone era writing of Rod Serling.

He was one of the most promising directors to emerge in the late 90s/early 2000s and his first two films The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were superb, but despite a few bright spots like last year’s Split and Devil (2010) (which he scripted for another director), he has completely failed to fulfill his early potential. Shyamalan is also remembered for his part in an embarrassing hoax. In a documentary called The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan about his life, he said that he had drowned, died and came back. It later turned out that it was all a publicity stunt.

At one point in Glass, a character in the film discusses comic/adventure story tropes making the point that many of these stories include a brain, a reluctant hero and an anarchist (which I think corresponds to Obi Wan Kinobi, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in Star Wars.)

The film features Samuel Jackson as Elijah Price, a.k.a. Mr. Glass, filling the brainiac role. He has brittle bones and he can’t walk, but his ideas set the whole main plot in motion. This mastermind with a tragic past engineers a risky escape from mental institution (the guards there are unusually stupid) along with his brutal ally, the beast (no relation to Hank McCoy.)

Jackson was marvelous in Pulp Fiction, Do the Right Thing and The Caveman’s Valentine, but here he basically seems to be sleepwalking through the role or painting by the numbers.

The film costars James McEvoy, who is perhaps best known for playing Professor Charles Xavier In the current string of X-Men roles (he is good in the role but he won’t make me forget Patrick Stewart). His character suffers from associative personality disorder so he has many personas with distinctive accents and quirks. Collectively the personalities are known as the horde. Comic fans will probably be reminded of such comic characters as the sentry/void and Mary Walker/Typhoid Mary from Daredevil comics.

McEvoy who is a decent actor is not equally effective in all the roles and he often seems to be self-consciously acting with a capital A. When he becomes a teen character with a heavy accent he overacts and mugs shamelessly for the camera. His hulk like character, the beast (who is often shirtless) creates disorder and is sometimes fulfills the anarchist role in the film.

Bruce Willis plays David Dunn (his name is alliterative like many superhero names such as Bruce Banner or Peter Parker) plays the reluctant hero role. He also has a Clark Kent like/average Joe work identity as a security guard. Instead of a costume he wears a poncho and while most of the characters McEvoy plays are self-aggrandizing maniacs. Dunn likes to stay in the background and does not call attention to himself. Willis is actually fairly likeable and convincing in the role.

After an enormous amount of buildup, the film has a big shockingly violent confrontation between the Willis and Jackson characters which generates some excitement but the conclusion is abrupt and completely underwhelming.

Glass has gotten mostly negative reviews but it has some very good moments. Its provocatively intelligent hit and miss script seems somewhat undercooked (perhaps Shyamalan needed more time between films).

The film is mostly recommended to people that adored the first two films in the trilogy. If you are walking in cold or are not a comic fan you will probably be frustrated and disappointed. Although it does resolve many loose ends and gives some closure, the film is much more fun to think about or write about than it is to actually watch.
 

Directed/Written by:  M. Night Shyamalan
Starring:   Anya Taylor-Joy, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson
Released:  122118
Length:  129 minutes
Rating:   Rated PG-13 for comic-book violence, including cannibalism.

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org
and www.chicagopoetry.org

GLASS  ©  2018 Universal Pictures
Review © 2018 Alternate Reality, Inc.