Movie Review: Glass Shatters

Samuel L Jackson James McAvoy Bruce Willis Glass M Night Shyamalan
Movie Review: Glass Shatters
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Glass is a film that’s been a long time coming for M. Night Shyamalan. It brings together characters from two of his most successful films, 2000’s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split. Like those two films, Glass tries to tell a superhero story in a unique and suspenseful way, other than the majority of Marvel and DC action blockbusters.

Samuel L Jackson

Photo: Universal Pictures

The film focuses around three super-powered characters. There’s David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a man with superhuman strength and total invulnerability who acts as a heroic vigilante. Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy) is a man living with 23 distinct personalities, one of which being a supernatural beastly entity. Finally there is Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), otherwise known as Mr. Glass, a genius living with brittle bone disease who acts as a self-appointed super-villain attempting to bring super-powered humans out of comic books and the underground and into the public sphere. If that seems like a lot, it is. Glass relies heavily on the viewer’s knowledge of the events of the previous films and their characters.

These three people are captured and brought together to a mental institution by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychiatrist who specializes in people who delusionally believe that they have superpowers. She attempts to “cure” the three of them only to find that they clash fiercely against each other within that confined space; nearly the entire film takes place within the institution building.

While they were both a kind of superhero movie, Unbreakable was a suspense thriller created at a time when the comic book superhero film wasn’t as all-encompassing a part of our culture as it is today, which is part of what made it so surprising and successful at the time, while Split was a strange psychological horror. What these two films had in common, however, is that they were incredibly personal character studies on the parts of their protagonists in which both they and the audience slowly uncover something extraordinary about themselves; at its core, this is one of the main joys of watching a superhero story. Glass, however, strays away from this idea to its detriment.

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Bruce Willis Glass M. Night Shyamalan

Photo: Universal Pictures

The film ends up being at an awkward middle point between a small, personal character-driven story and a large-scale action film along the lines of most modern superhero movies and, as a result, isn’t able to do either of those things particularly well. Fans of the original movies will be disappointed by the fact that the story is so split between David, Kevin (and his many personalities) and Elijah that you can’t really get to know or connect with any of them. In fact, despite being titled after Mr. Glass, the film spends the least amount of time with Elijah and his character falls the most flat. Fans of most superhero movies, meanwhile, will be disappointed by a story that is both so small in scale and yet so impersonal at the same time.

Despite some wonderful performances from the main trio and even genuinely charming chemistry between them and the supporting cast (David’s relationship with his son is a standout throughout the film), Glass ends up being a film that doesn’t live up to the legacy of its predecessors in a way that not even one of M. Night’s twist endings can save.

Glass: 2 out of 4 stars

  1. PG, 2 hr 9 min, Superhero/Suspense
  2. Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
  3. Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, James McAvoy
  4. Now playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill, Cineplex Oakville & VIP, and Film.ca

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