Let’s talk about Glass.
M. Night Shyamalan has taken us on a journey over the last few years. Even his most ardent fans wrote him off after the debacle of After Earth. It had been so long since his last good film that many wrote off The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable as flukes. So we as a world decided to ignore his future releases. But then, The Visit was released. No one was going to say it was a classic but it was a very fun horror movie, one to enjoy with friends and laugh at the jump scares. But again, we were concerned it was a fluke. But then Split came out and shocked us all by being very good. It was still very Shyamalany but it was creepy, alarming and yes a tiny bit funny. And with it teasing an Unbreakable sequel, people were excited for a Shyamalan movie again.
So yes, this is the Unbreakable sequel people have been wanting for years now. Though it might not be what you expect. David Dunn, Mr. Unbreakable Bruce Willis, starts tracking the Horde, James McAvoy’s multi-personality villain, but both end up in a psychiatric hospital alongside Mr. Glass. This is where a psychiatrist tries to convince the three of them that their superpowers are not real and are in fact, mental health disorders.
The movie kicks off with what you might expect from an Unbreakable sequel. David Dunn, running a security wares shop with his son, is dealing out vigilante service on the side before finding out where the Horde is. They have a fight, which is poorly shot with many bizarre GoPro bits which really don’t work, and then get caught by the psychiatric hospital people who take them in to treat them. And this bit at the start works well enough. It is massively rushed, a movie about David tracking the Horde with that timer element of when is he going to release the beast and kill the kidnapped girls would actually have been brilliant, because it wants to get to the psychiatric hospital and that’s a shame. This is good stuff and I think what people wanted out the sequel.
It also doesn’t help that when we get to the psychiatric hospital, things fall apart and become very boring. Firstly, they make sure that all three characters can’t interact with each other which is exactly the opposite of what we wanted. It’d be like if they made The Avengers and made plot points which stopped Tony Stark and Steve Rogers from meeting until way into the movie. You’d be pissed off because the whole reason you bought the ticket was that you wanted to see them together, not in hospital rooms away from each other talking to a doctor. And these scenes are all really dull because nothing seems to happen in them. Also, they have Samuel L. Jackson sedated for the first half of the movie which is bizarre because you have your most charismatic actor doing nothing for so long.
When the characters start interacting, ie when Glass is not sedated and starts doing his evil plans, the movie starts picking up again. Seeing Glass, who is basically a super intelligent Samuel L Jackson which is fine by me, interact with the many personalities of the Horde is great fun. Samuel L Jackson is the same as he ever is, a massive personality who is great fun to watch. And James McAvoy pulls off being all these people in one again even though really it should just be laughable. This was the sort of thing we wanted, Glass being this mastermind and using the Horde as this monster at his control to further prove that superheroes and supervillains exist. Seeing Glass plot his escape is a definite highlight and why this move is redeemable in some way.
This all ends in a big fight in the courtyard and again, this is fun. It would be truly great if not for Bruce Willis. It’s well known that Bruce Willis hasn’t given a crap for years but I thought with this being a movie actually going into cinemas with a creative director playing one of his most well-regarded roles would wake him up. It doesn’t. Throughout the movie, it looks like someone has dragged him out of bed and told him he isn’t allowed his toys until he’s finished the scene. He looks completely listless throughout and I kind of wish that Shyamalan just decided to recast. Willis does not want to be there at all and when you’ve got him in scenes with an overacting James McAvoy and Samuel L Jackson being himself, it really shows.
I only put the blame on Bruce Willis here because I’ve seen a few films with him recently where he obviously hasn’t been trying and it isn’t a stretch to accuse him of the same here. But there’s an argument that one of Shyamalan’s worst flaws is back though. One familiar trait from his movies that any charisma and energy from the actors is killed dead, all being left is a monotone ghost of the actor. While that was present in some way in both The Visit and Split, it was limited to people in just a scene or two. Here it inflicts many. Anya Taylor-Joy, who was great in Split, looks baffled and bored most of the time. Spencer Treat Clark, who plays Bruce Willis’ son, cannot shut his mouth. But the worst is Sarah Paulson as Dr. Staple, the nearest we have to a lead character. Definitely the person with the most screen time. She is so bland and monotone that any scene she is in is made uninteresting, despite being given some interesting lines. It’s the worst.
Also I best talk about the twists as it is the thing that M. Night Shyamalan is best known for. I won’t go into details because of spoilers but I will say that there are three twists and they are all effective. They make sense, if you go back earlier on into the movie the clues are there and they are surprising. At least if you don’t like the movie, you can say that Shyamalan is good at twists again and it’s not just that the plants are evil.
I can’t help but be very disappointed with Glass. I really loved Split and following the final scene in that one, I couldn’t wait for the sequel that was surely coming. But I can’t help but think that Shyamalan has fluffed it. He’s made a movie with some of his worst traits such as weird cinematography where some of the shots try to be to artsy rather than tell the story and a number of monotone dead to the world performances which include a completely zoned out Bruce Willis. It’s not all bad as Samuel L Jackson and James McAvoy are great fun and there’s a thrill when they start to interact, but it’s just sad that this couldn’t be as good as it could be.