BROKE, BROKE AND AWAY // A FILM REVIEW OF "GLASS"
Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 3:52PM
The Artswire Weekly in Anya Taylor-Joy, Bruce Willis, Film Reviews, Glass, James McAvoy, M. Night Shyamalan, Reviews by Mateo Moreno, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Split, Superheroes, Unbreakable

BY MATEO MORENO

To say that M. Night Shyamalan’s career has had its ups and downs is really putting it mildly. Since exploding into the mainstream with The Sixth Sense in 1999 (which received almost universe love), M. Night has released one project after another, each one dividing audiences into a pure frenzy. Talk of “he’s lost it” and “he’s back to form” has been said throughout his entire career. But one thing that can be said is that he’s been consistently original. You may not like what comes out of his brain (cough, cough… The Happening… cough, cough), but it is purely his own vision being transported onto the screen. His follow up to The Sixth Sense was Unbreakable in 2000 and that film is still my favorite property of his. It told the story of David Dunn, an ordinary man who slowly finds himself to be “unbreakable.” It was a superhero story in a very non-superhero world. Samuel L. Jackson played his nemesis, Elijah Price, a man whose bones were so brittle that he was nicknamed “Mr. Glass.” Slow and powerful, and I’ve often thought of it ever since.

 

In 2016, M. Night “returned to form” once again with the unassuming Split, featuring James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man who has 23 personalities inside of him and the most dangerous one is threatening to overtake them all. It was a fun, original, and very well told film. The surprise was that in the final moments of the film, we were reintroduced to David Dunn, and realized that the two films took place in the same universe. Now, the long-awaited follow-up to Unbreakable has arrived, now less of a sequel and more of the final piece of a trilogy. GLASS is the third part of the puzzle, bringing together David Dunn, Mr. Glass, and all of James McAvoy’s personalities. It also brings back Anya Taylor-Joy from Split and a grown-up Spencer Treat Clark from Unbreakable. M. Night’s three main characters are sent to an asylum and treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) a woman who specializes in the very specific delusion of grandeur where people believe they are actually superheroes

 

What follows is a lot of great build up and promise that fizzles so fast that it’s actually enraging. The mood and slow building dread of his earlier films fill the first half of GLASS expertly. Sarah Paulson is stoic and sharp, Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clark are great supporting players, and James McAvoy is utterly brilliant (and he stays that way up until the end). However, for a movie named after Mr. Glass, Samuel L. Jackson’s presence is largely under utilized here, as he’s catatonic for most of the film and when he springs, rather wheels, into action, it’s pretty unremarkable. Most disappointing is the treatment M. Night gives David Dunn and the sleepwalk performance Bruce Willis performs it with. David Dunn is a fascinating character who’s reduces to getting thrown around and has the weakest of all storylines. The final act, which is teased to be a giant superhero showdown, is all smoke and mirrors and actually takes places somewhere else entirely, somewhere far less exciting. And the writer/director either doesn’t trust the audience to know the beats of a superhero story or doesn’t actually understand them himself, because suddenly near the end of the film, every character starts to explain out loud how this action is part of an origin story or this action is how the hero triumphs, etc, etc. GLASS had me engaged for the first half and completely nosedived into ridiculousness in the second. But I do admire the world, and the risks that M. Night took here. I just wish he knew how to land it.

 

MATEO'S GRADE: C+

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY M. Night Shyamalan STARRING James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark. Now playing in select cinemas.
Article originally appeared on The Artswire Weekly (http://www.theartswireweekly.com/).
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