“Glass” stars Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Samuel L. Jackson. Released on January 18, 2019, the film has David Dunn battling The Horde and Mr. Glass.
The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed films such as “The Sixth Sense”, “Signs”, “The Village”, and “The Visit”. It is the third and final film in the “Unbreakable” film series, aka the “Eastrail 177 Trilogy”. Less than 19 years ago, one of Shyamalan’s earliest films changed the way we look at superhero films by providing a more grounded and realistic approach to the genre. That film was “Unbreakable”. Despite being criticized for its ending, the film was hailed as one of the director’s best films and one of the best superhero films of all time. Many years later, Shyamalan wrote and directed a psychological thriller known as “Split”, which, according to its ending, was actually set in the same universe as “Unbreakable”. So now we have the latest chapter in Shyamalan’s so-called “superhero trilogy” that brings these two movies together for a showdown of epic proportions. OK, maybe not as “epic” as the big-budget superhero films we had recently, but for those who have watched “Unbreakable” and "Split", it might as well will be. This was the only film in January that I was looking forward to the most because Shyamalan’s last film, “Split”, left me with a confident feeling that he has finally gotten his groove back. Plus, I was interested in seeing how he’s going to conclude this type of concept that began with “Unbreakable”. Since this is an M. Night Shyamalan film, my review will be spoiler-free in case you haven’t watched it yet. If you’ve watched any of his other films, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Similar to “Unbreakable”, “Glass” explores the concept of superheroes and super villains in the real world as well as the perception on what is real and what is fantasy, notably from Elijah Price (Jackson) and the film’s new character, Dr. Ellie Staple (Paulson). With the recent popularity of the superhero genre, it almost felt unique to see this type of concept being represented again without succumbing to its usual superhero tropes. That’s because Shyamalan was able to maintain the realistic tone that was introduced in “Unbreakable” without resorting to some flashy special effects and huge set locations. As a result, the film is an investing and grounded superhero thriller that relies solely on storytelling over cheap superhero cliches. The main cast did a great job with their performances. Bruce Willis was great in his role as David Dunn, James McAvoy was once again brilliant and captivating as The Horde, and Samuel L. Jackson…wow. His acting in this film is one of the reasons why I still adore him. I would also give Shyamalan credit for having the characters from “Unbreakable” and “Split”, like David’s son (Spencer Treat Clark) and Casey Cooke (Taylor-Joy), serve as important parts of the story rather than have them appear as cameos. While the film’s pacing can be a bit slow for some people, Shyamalan was able to provide plenty of intrigue, suspense, and atmosphere to keep me interested in the film's world. The cinematography was nicely handled in terms of the wide-angle shots and action scenes, and the musical score by West Dylan Thordson was simply riveting. As for its flaws, I would say that the execution on the third act was debatable to me. On the one hand, the third act had some effective twists that made me look at the other films that came before it differently. On the other hand, it didn’t do that much to provide a satisfying and emotional conclusion to Shyamalan’s trilogy. I can understand what he’s going for, but if his goal was to deliver an ending that’ll hit audiences and “Unbreakable” followers in the gut, this was a pretty weak way of expressing it. I also found the action scenes to be a little bit underwhelming, mostly the ones that involve David and The Horde. I know that it’s made with a small budget, but you can’t have a superhero movie without the high-stakes action. That’s one of the major rules on how to make superhero films. Always make the action in superhero movies intense and entertaining, especially the ones that have a $20 million budget.
Overall, “Glass” isn’t the perfect conclusion that we’ve been waiting for. Nonetheless, it is an engaging and well-acted thriller that focuses on storytelling and atmosphere rather than superhero tropes and big-budget visuals. The film’s main cast, Shyamalan’s direction and screenplay, and its cinematography were able to punch their way past its flawed finale and its unmemorable action sequences. I can see why most people were disappointed in this, especially those who are fans of “Unbreakable” and “Split”, but I don’t think it deserves to be one of Shyamalan’s biggest flops. Sure, they could’ve done a lot better with the ending, but everything else before it shows that he still knows how to make some enjoyable thrillers. If you’re still interested in seeing it despite the flaws that I mentioned, I would say go ahead and check it out for yourself. Just don’t expect anything too special from it and you’ll be fine.