Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson and Samuel L. Jackson
In UK Cinemas January 18th, 2019

by Alex Plant

After a steady fall from grace with the likes of After Earth, The Happening and the travesty that was The Last Airbender, M. Night Shyamalan surprised everyone when 2016’s Split turned out to be actually, well, quite good. Even more surprising still was the revelation that Split itself was a pseudo sequel to 2000’s revered covert superhero movie, Unbreakable. Glass, then, is the third instalment in this trilogy and for the first time in a long time, it seems audiences are actually excited to see an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

Going into Glass without having seen both Unbreakable and Split will do you no favours. The story picks up with David Dunn (Willis), aka The Overseer, protecting the streets of Philadelphia from low-level criminals and working with his son to try and track down The Horde, aka James McAvoy’s dissociative identity disorder sufferer, Kevin Wendell Crumb. Following a brief first act face-off the two are both arrested and taken to a psychiatric hospital under the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Paulson), who specialises in treating the particular delusion of grandeur that makes ordinary folk believe that they’re superhuman. Conveniently, Samuel L. Jackson’s heavily sedated evil mastermind, Mr Glass, is also held on the same ward.

McAvoy is the undisputed star of this movie. We get to see even more of Kevin’s 24 different personalities than we did in Split, and once again McAvoy’s embodiment of these different characters and his seamless transitions between them is nothing short of mesmerising. It’s also a pleasure to see Jackson and Willis clearly relishing their return to these roles, even if the latter doesn’t really get much to do after the first act. The real shame however, is that even when sharing scenes together, the three don’t get much interaction time, with Paulson driving the majority of the dialogue. The returning supporting characters are undercooked and feel crowbarred into scenes, just to remind you that they exist. The third act is unquestionably a heavy-handed mess, but at times gloriously so. Shyamalan’s shot choices are always interesting, if not always effective, but his cinematic sleight-of-hand has a few too many tells these days.

Glass is filled with moments where Shyamalan reminds us of both why we fell in and subsequently out of love with his signature brand of storytelling. However, it’s the inelegant meshing of Split’s more frenetic style with the sombre dialogue heavy tone of Unbreakable that makes Glass feel uneven at best, and laughable at worst. There are some pretty glaring plot holes, but it is worth watching if only for McAvoy. Though it’s easily the weakest in the trilogy, it’s the sort of movie where you can still enjoy the ride if you don’t think too hard about it. Much like the disappointing finale of a gripping season of television, it’s perhaps better to focus on the journey more than where it ends up.


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