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Review: ‘Glass’ does some self-reflecting before unleashing the beast Special

Posted Jan 18, 2019 by Sarah Gopaul
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is finally closing a two-decade chapter in his career with the release of the long-anticipated, ‘Glass.’
A scene from M. Night Shyamalan s  Glass
A scene from M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'
Universal Pictures
“Good things come to those who wait.” Unfortunately this hasn’t always been true when it comes to movies. Sometimes, the passage of too much time can cause a continuation to feel silly or unnecessary. This can especially be a problem if the original actors are not available… or sometimes even if they are. One of the key steps to a late follow-up is acknowledging the amount of time that’s passed and at least vaguely filling in the gaps. It took M. Night Shyamalan 19 years to get here, but after the surprise ending of Split revealed it was the unexpected sequel to Unbreakable, he’s now delivered the final installment in the long-rumoured trilogy, Glass.
David Dunn’s (Bruce Willis) rain poncho has done well to conceal his identity for nearly two decades, though it also led to a lot of nicknames before they finally settled on “The Overseer.” With the help of his son (Spencer Treat Clark), David’s been taking down hooligans and thieves, leaving them injured but alive. But he’s currently focused on finding “The Horde” (James McAvoy), who’s killed again and is now suspected of kidnapping another group of girls. When they both unexpectedly find themselves in the same mental health facility as Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), things get more complicated. Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) believes all three men are delusional and has three days to cure them of their superhero fantasies.
The most exciting part of this type of trilogy is getting everyone into the same room, so Shyamalan doesn’t waste a lot of time getting to at least one of the more anticipated meetings. However, this isn’t just an attempt to appease audiences — it’s part of a larger strategy that gives viewers what they want early on so the director can tell the story he wants for the next hour. Having studied news and medical reports on each man, Staple proves very familiar with each of their situations, as well as their weaknesses. Consequently, she’s constructed containment units customized to keep each of them confined. But like those who came before her, she doesn’t understand as much as she thinks.
Staple’s job is to convince each man he is ordinary and any signs of something more are symptoms of a correctable brain ailment or simple coincidence. In the meantime, the audience is also presented with theories of comic books having real-life origins and the historical existence of superhumans. Both are convincing, but only one can be right in this narrative. Thankfully these three characters are inherently fascinating, as is their corresponding outside connections: David’s son, Glass’ mother (Charlayne Woodard) and the previously spared Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). Yet, it eventually feels like Staple is beating a dead horse.
The hospital sequence still could’ve been condensed, even though Staple’s approach is given wider context at the end of the film. The content of this section is fascinating and imperative to the last act, but it drags on a bit too long. Once the final act starts to unfold, viewers will perk up in their seats and their renewed interest is rewarded with an intense, action-packed conclusion with unexpected consequences.
Jackson, McAvoy and Willis each seamlessly pick up the baton for the final lap, even though two of them haven’t portrayed their characters for almost 20 years. McAvoy’s portrayal of The Horde is still impeccable as he adds a few more personalities to the mix while flawlessly playing those with which audiences are already familiar. Unfortunately, Paulson sticks out and doesn’t seem well-suited to her role. Perhaps her mechanical delivery is intentional, but it doesn’t work and contributes to the fatigue of the hospital sequence.
**Spoiler alert** The three leaf clover is also somewhat irksome as it’s wearers are representative of balance yet there’s nothing even about the symbol, unless it has other significance to be explained later.
Due to the strangeness of Shyamalan’s pictures, it’s difficult to have too many expectations for his movies. This film fulfills the basic wants and needs about specific confrontations and meetings, which makes it worth watching for fans of the first two installments; but anyone just looking for a thriller may not feel as captivated by the unique personalities, which would make the middle section a total slog.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson