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M. Night Shyamalan Can’t Find The Clarity In “Glass”

Not many filmmakers are, in and of themselves, a brand name. To be certain, M. Night Shyamalan is one. You have a certain expectation when you go into one of his movies. Sometimes, he meets them, while at others, he falls well below them. Two years ago, Split was heralded as a return to form for him, while also connecting to one of Shyamalan’s most well regarded previous works, Unbreakable. Well, hitting theaters this week is Glass, the follow up that brings together both of those flicks. Unfortunately, it’s a total letdown and a mess. This is hardly on par with Unbreakable. Sadly, it’s closer to Lady in the Water than anything else, and that’s not a compliment.

The film is a follow up to Split, also functioning as a long in the making sequel to Unbreakable. At the outset, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is on the hunt for Kevin Wendall Crumb (James McAvoy), also known as The Horde. With 24 personalities, including a monster called The Beast, he’s on the loose after the events of Split. Dunn, who learned of his superhero status in Unbreakable, tracks Crumb down, but just as they begin to fight, they’re both captured by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). Specializing in patients who are deluded into thinking they have superpowers, Staple commits both and has a weekend to attempt to cure them. Lo and behold, she’s also had a third patient for some time now, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who came to be known as Mr. Glass in his dealings with Dunn. As the four of them interact, a showdown looms. On the fringes, Crumb’s sole surviving would be victim Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) takes an interest in his capture. The less said about what ultimately happens, the better. Not to prevent spoilers either, just because what happens is so dumb and so groan inducing, it’s less painful to ignore it. Shyamalan writes and directs, with the rest of the cast filled out by Spencer Treat Clark, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, Charlayne Woodard, and more. West Dylan Thordson wrote the score, while the cinematography is by Mike Gioulakis.

I really dislike this movie. To be fair, I was mixed on Split, but I certainly enjoyed Unbreakable. Shyamalan does a disservice to two of his beloved characters from that title, while bringing down a recent addition in the process from his last outing. The worst part about this film is that Shyamalan only half-heartedly attempts to build a cinematic universe. Partly making it a twist and partly building a world makes for a wholly unsatisfying experience. Nothing here is impressively done at all, from the filmmaking on down. Shyamalan even wastes a talented young DP in Gioulakis. It’s just disappointment after disappointment during the rather bloating running time of over two hours.

Shyamalan attempts to avoid his worst influences here, instead just putting forth something dull and completely unnecessary. Half the film is spent in a mental hospital with repetitive scenes that either don’t go anywhere, obnoxiously point towards a twist, or outstay their welcome. He wastes Paulson, giving her an absolutely thankless character. By the time her purpose comes into focus, you’re well past the point of caring. Moreover, the ramblings about comic books, comic book characters, heroes, and villains…they’re surface level, dated, and really don’t add up to anything of real value. The one nice surprise here? One of the additions to The Horde is a personality who’s a film professor. Aside from that? Nothing new in the flick is really any good.

There was an opportunity to make something really different and interesting with Glass. Instead, Shyamalan just toys with his audience and their emotions. There’s no clarity as to why he opted to pursue this avenue. It’ll be a financial success, that’s for sure. A creative one, however? That is decidedly not the case. There were a ton of options for what to do with Crumb, Dunn, and Price. Any number of them would have been compelling. Somehow, Shyamalan opted for one of the few that have almost no value. This is at best a mediocre film. Even during the garbage month of January, this falls well short of the intended mark…

Glass hits theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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