Glass unites the threads of Unbreakable and Split but fails to do anything truly interesting with them.
Glass is a movie that takes itself very, very seriously. In fact, it’s so serious I wanted to grab its face and shove a hanger into its mouth. It is the third part of M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy that began in 2000 with Unbreakable and continued with Split in 2016. It unites the casts of both movies and throws them together for a super serious climactic showdown, which manages to simultaneously stir our intrigue and bore us to death.
James McAvoy returns as Kevin, the abused zookeeper from Split who manifests dozens of different personalities, the vilest of which is an animalistic reckoner called The Beast. Samuel L. Jackson is Elijah, who, with Bruce Willis’ David Dunn, has been quiet for eighteen years until, of course, the events of this movie. All three men are apprehended and confined to an insane asylum, where Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is meant to convince them their powers aren’t scientifically possible.
The first two-thirds are well made and use the movie’s sombre mood to good effect. The orderlies march about the hospital, interacting with what I’m assuming are their only three patients. Dr. Staple observes from a distance. And Shyamalan uses the claustrophobia of his location to slowly build suspense the only way he knows how.
We start to get a feel for these characters, particularly Kevin, who is by far the most interesting of the three. He gives McAvoy the opportunity to try on a gazillion different accents and mannerisms as he swaps from a 9-year-old boy to a pair of Irish sisters, from a bro with a southern drawl to a mistress with a stick up her bum, like one of those quick-change illusionists. And there is no doubt McAvoy looks equally convincing topless or in a frumpy old dress.
However, everyone else kind of gets lost in the sternness of the plot. I feel like there’s much we could learn about David Dunn’s powers and morals, or why Elijah chooses to do what he does, but Glass darts along so single-mindedly that it ends up swallowing its own ambition.
It also succumbs to questionable writing, as when two suspects stroll past an oblivious security guard, or when a shady character proclaims her job description to the very people who appointed her to that job. I liked the creation of the superheroes and the zeal with which McAvoy chews his scenery, but really, the rest is suspect, and way too serious.
Glass is available in Australian cinemas from January 17
Image (c) Universal Pictures 2019