Friday, January 18, 2019

Glass - Review

Nineteen years removed from Unbreakable, a film that’s largely felt underappreciated for much of its life, director and writer M. Night Shyamalan returns to the world of superheroes once more with the long-awaited sequel, Glass. While Split offered a different perspective into this world, Glass brings back the characters that made Unbreakable the interesting and suspenseful film that it was. And with Shyamalan’s talent quietly shining through once more, the anticipation for Glass couldn’t be higher, which makes it failures all the more hurtful.

Vigilante David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is in pursuit of Kevin Wendell Crumb’s (James McAvoy) superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters of these supposed super beings, while the shadowy presence of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men and their abilities.

Without any reservations, James McAvoy is once again the best piece of a Shyamalan film. Not unlike his turn in Split, McAvoy vanishes into a portrayal of twenty-four distinct personalities, seamlessly switching gears with ease. In many ways, he becomes the only interesting character in this subdued super-powered sequel. His performance is worth the price of admission, even if the rest of the film is a complete mess.

Unfortunately, the return of the two Unbreakable stars is a complete waste, both for vastly different reasons. Samuel L. Jackson does his best with the lackluster material, bringing the same over the top mastermind qualities needed for the role in Unbreakable. However, his limited presence for a majority of the narrative seems misguided for the titular character. Jackson’s other half, Bruce Willis, is an entirely different story. Willis appears to be sleepwalking through the film, not unlike most of his recent work, and virtually disappears as a character around the halfway point, serving mainly as the muscle for McAvoy’s Crumb to fight.

And yet, despite two of the film’s leading characters feeling utterly wasted, the film still shows signs of potential. There are moments and themes that, if explored properly, could’ve led to a really exciting conclusion to this unusual trilogy. Instead, director and writer M.Night Shyamalan, infamous for twisty endings, goes in a different direction, one that’s bound to leave many viewers with an overwhelming sense of disappointment. It is undoubtedly a gutsy decision, one that maybe would’ve worked in a better film, but here it just winds up being a baffling cap to a unique franchise.

Glass is not an awful film, just disappointing. Shyamalan has committed many a cinematic crime in the past, and yet this feels like it could be the worst. Outside of another stellar performance from McAvoy, nothing really connects the way it should. And while there are very brief glimpses to the best Shyamalan can be, they crumble before fully materializing and what’s left is a fairly broken narrative that never quite knows what it wants to be. 

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