Arts movie review

The big bad trio finally comes together

‘Glass’ is a fractured attempt at an epic comic book showdown

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Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) converses with Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) in 'Glass.'
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy
Rated PG-13, Now Playing

19 years after Unbreakable, Glass sort of continues the cat-and-mouse game between David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) with another factor thrown in: Kevin Wendell Crumb and the Horde (James McAvoy). Thankfully, the movie didn’t completely let down my expectations. It was entertaining. I got my fill of James McAvoy’s stellar performance as the Horde, and it did not add to Shyamalan’s plethora of amazingly terrible movies.

Glass, as can be seen in the trailers, primarily focuses on the journey the intriguing trio go through after being committed to a psychiatric hospital. While they are stuck there as patients, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) desperately tries to convince all three that they all have tricked themselves into some delusion of superhero grandeur. Movie-goers who have seen either Unbreakable or Split will scoff at poor, naive Dr. Staple’s attempts at ‘reform,’ but she does make a good effort.

Overall, the slow burn film culminates into a long drawn-out expository story that feels unfinished. There are several ideas going on at once and it seemed M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t contently settle for just one coherent line of thought. There’s the primary story of Dr. Staple trying to cure David, Elijah, and Kevin. Then there are the side stories involving each superhuman’s loved one, from Joseph Dunn (Spencer Treat Clark) looking for ways to prove his father’s inherently good nature to Casey Cooke’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) power of love (yes, this is an actual thing in the movie) to Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) just being there for the sole reason that she’s related to Elijah Price.

Frustratingly, despite the movie being named after him, Elijah Price spends the majority of the movie as a sedated potato in a wheelchair. I had hoped to see more of his mind games and super villain planning take the spotlight, and the plot does eventually come around to this point, but not without twists that ultimately feel underwhelming and overly convoluted. There was never any doubt to Elijah’s fanaticism over his comic book conspiracies, but there’s a point where the line has to be drawn.

However, the two-hour long debacle did have its highlights. The performance from the cast matches its expected caliber. It also brings a certain amount of nostalgia considering a lot of the cast reprise their roles, such as Spencer Treat Clark, who played young Joseph Dunn 19 years ago in Unbreakable. My favorite performance, as some may have guessed, is James McAvoy playing the man with 24 different personalities. It never ceases to amaze me to watch a buff, bald man transform into a daintily composed English woman or a bumbling nine year old with a lisp, “et thetera.” McAvoy’s ability to articulate through each personality is just mesmerizing, especially considering the fact that viewers can pick apart each distinct personality and know who is “holding the light” in that exact moment.

An unfortunate contrast to the cast’s great acting was Shyamalan’s extremely awkward cameo in the movie. I don’t want to go too much into detail, but the movie would have probably been fine without the overly long cameo.

Speaking of awkward moments, the cinematography and sound design did sometimes throw me off while watching the movie. A lot of conversations held between characters usually consisted of uncomfortably close shots of the speaking character’s face, and the sounds that were meant to bring drama just made the film seem overly saturated with suspense and tension that wasn’t really there to begin with.

So, should you go watch this movie? For the sake of completing the story Shyamalan already established in Unbreakable and Split, I’d say go for it. From the Beast’s frequent rampages to the occasional push-and-shove action sequences, the viewer can be kept entertained throughout the long two hours. I suppose my main piece of advice is go into it expecting a typical Shyamalan movie. Definitely not one as bad as The Last Airbender, but also not one as great as The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable.