“This is not going to go the way you think.” Good advice for budding Jedi trainees as well anyone heading into one of M. Night Shyamalan films. Doubly so for Glass, which has the unenviable task of not just being a sequel to Shyamalan's 2016 supernaturally-tinged psychological thriller Split, but also Unbreakable, his ‘serious’ meditation on the super-hero genre from 2000.
After ‘The Horde’, the collection of multiple personalities inhabiting Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy) kidnaps another set of victims to sacrifice to his superhuman 24th personality, ‘The Beast’, Bruce Willis' David Dunn seeks him out in his own superhero alter ego of the rain poncho-wearing Overseer. Helped by his now grown-up son Joseph who in a nice touch is played the same actor from Unbreakable Spencer Treat Clark, before they can subdue The Horde both are captured by the mysterious Dr Ellie Staple (Paulson). Staple, who seems to know far too much about both of them, takes both David and The Horde to a special psychiatric hospital where her third patient, Elijah Price AKA Mr Glass has been kept sedated since Unbreakable.
What follows threatens at times to explode into a full superhero slug-fest before Shyamalan's plans and the Blumhouse budget keeps things grounded. This may feel unsatisfying at times but as with many of Shyamalan's films, once ‘the twist’ has been revealed most of these concerns disappear. Most.
In this case, there's less of a twist in the tale and more a reveal that the whole film has been in service of a particular concept and message, and it's a pretty good one, but Shyamalan does take his sweet time getting there.
There are a few too many scenes of Paulson monologuing to her charges about how delusional they are, and while The Horde has been cowed by a special set of lights, Dunn could probably just bend some steel and prove her wrong. Also for a film called Glass, Jackson's Elijah Price has far too little screen time. Yes, he is on screen quite a bit but Mr Glass doesn't really make his presence felt until quite late in the game and when he does it just makes you want more of him in the film. McAvoy and Willis are also pretty great, although McAvoy's gurning, while changing personalities does get overused a bit. Seeing Willis return to a role after so much time is a treat, however, especially when supplemented with flashbacks to the original film.
Glass isn't trying to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's very much a ‘classic’ M. Night Shyamalan film, even down to the director’s cameo. Even here he seems to have learned from past mistakes and manages to elicit (intentional) laughter as opposed to groans.
Glass isn't a superhero film as much as it's a sequel to the understated world of Unbreakable and a loving ode to the world of comic books. Approach it knowing that, and you'll most likely enjoy it.
GLASS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN / SCREENPLAY: M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN / STARRING: JAMES MCAVOY, BRUCE WILLIS, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, SARAH PAULSON, ANYA TAYLOR-JOY, CHARLAYNE WOODARD / RELEASE DATE: JAN 18TH
Expected Rating: 9 out of 10