When it comes to movie directors, one of the most controversial is M. Night Shymalan. He’s directed amazing and classic movies like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable; he’s also directed atrocities like After Earth and The Happening. His movies are best known for the fact that there’s always some big twist, which sometimes ends up hurting the movie more than helping it. However, in 2016 he released his newest movie, Split, to good critical reception. His most recent movie is Glass, which is a sequel to both Split and Unbreakable. So, is Glass as good as its predecessors, or does the sequel fall flat?
The story of Glass is very reliant on its characters and their relationships to one another, and if you go in without any prior knowledge you want get the most out of your experience. There are four main characters: David Dunn, Kevin Wendell Crumb, Elijah Price, and Dr. Ellie Staple. Dunn is the hero with super strength from Unbreakable, Crumb is a man with 23 personalities, Price was the villain of Unbreakable and has extremely brittle bones, and Staple is the psychiatrist trying to convince them that they aren’t super-powered, just regular people.
The majority of the movie takes place in a mental hospital, and while there are fights, there’s also a lot of discussion on the ideas of superheroes. While much of it is based on the events of the movie, Glass doesn’t shy away from social commentary about mental diseases and the pop culture obsession with super heroes. One of Glass’s greatest strengths is that none of its characters are bound by history, as Marvel and DC characters are, allowing for a unique narrative that wouldn’t be found in the big Marvel or DC movies.
As it’s an M. Night Shymalan movie, there are twists throughout the story, but none of them feel too gratuitous or hurt the story. The twists are all plausible and help to establish stronger relationships between the characters, and aren’t too far fetched that an astute viewer couldn’t guess them.
While everyone may not be in love with the story of Glass, it’s impossible to deny that the actors deliver an amazing job. Bruce Willis plays David Dunn with the resolve of someone who’s a hero because they couldn’t forgive himself if they weren’t, while Samuel L. Jackson uses the opposite energy for Elijah Price, as someone who is a super villain because they can be, and to bring on a major challenge. However, James McAvoy outshines everyone as Kevin Wendell Crumb. He manages to portray each of the 23 personalities with their own flair, but none of them shine as the true personality. There are also scenes which have him act straight up terrifying, or surprisingly emotional, especially towards the end of the movie.
Glass makes a bold choice by having the majority of the movie take place in a mental hospital, but it’s a choice that ultimately pays off. So much time is spent in the mental hospital that the viewers become intimately familiar with it and the staff, so any scenes that take place outside the hospital already signal importance. This same importance is seen whenever the supporting cast from Unbreakable or Split show up, as they all have major relationships with the main characters.
Combining characters from two different movies from different genres that were released 16 years apart was a bold move, but it ends up working out in the end. Glass delivers a superhero movie different from most modern movies that isn’t afraid to have meta discussions or take in elements from other movie genres. While the pacing of Glass isn’t the best, with chunks of time where nothing happens and then a lot happening in a few minutes, it manages to provide a conclusion to Split and Unbreakable that respects the goals of those movies. Glass is a great movie for a new take on superheroes, and while there are a few missteps, it’s an enjoyable movie none the less.