The MCU is 10 years old. The DCEU is only six. And while we’ve been gobbling up superhero movies every couple of months, breaking every conceivable box office record imaginable, the sneaky modern master of suspense, twists and thrills, M. Night Shyamalan, has been unsuspectingly creating his own superhero trilogy for the last 20 years, right under our noses. And in true Shyamalan fashion, we did not see it coming!
Following the events of ‘Split’ (2016), the post-credit scene showed us one Mr David Dunn (Bruce Willis, ‘Unbreakable’). He’s now front and centre in ‘Glass’, teaming up with his now-adult son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) as the “guy in the chair” and using the family home security business as their HQ to track down Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McCoy, ‘Split’) and “The Horde” before he kills anymore young girls. Crumb and Dunn, now a local vigilante hero, are both apprehended by authorities lead by psychiatrist Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson, ‘Oceans 13’), who tries to cure the pair of their “superhero delusions” along with Elijah Price A.K.A. Mr Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) who already resides at the psychiatric hospital. But something much bigger is in the works, including the unlikely team-up of these three men’s loved ones to help them find and reach their true potential.
What promised to be an epic conclusion to its previous two brilliant set-up pieces is nothing but a boring two hour talk-fest of exposition and ironically lost potential. With a showdown between our villain and hero occurring within the first half an hour, the film poses the “uh oh, where do we go from here?” question far too early - and the answer is nowhere. It goes nowhere really fast. The story leads us to the psychiatric hospital where we’re told Dr Staple has only three days to cure these men. The deadline is never explained and it seems all too short to cure not one but three men of a major psychological disorder. So straight away, we’re not off to a good start. Most of the dialogue comes courtesy of Sarah Paulson who’s performance choice was to deliver her lines in a slow, methodical way, soft and rhythmic - I’m sure to appear calming, safe and understanding... but instead, after two hours, it actually comes across as condescending, frustrating and obnoxious, causing one to wish for a blunt pencil to stab through their eardrum so as to never hear her stupid voice ever again. For the duration of ‘Glass’, I lived in an alternate reality where I hated Sarah Paulson, and I did not like it. I did not like it at all.
After a series of failures for the once-sought after M. Night Shymalan he came back with a vengeance with ‘Split’ only to, as it turns out, squander his “time in the light” once again.
From the title, you can gather that Samuel L Jackson plays a major role here, and yes, Mr Glass and his encyclopaedic knowledge of comic books is a major factor - in fact, it’s a pretty cool factor. Please do not confuse my use of the word "cool" with entertaining or exciting; the resulting film is still a messy bore. It’s doesn’t have the suspense of ‘Unbreakable’ or the thrills of ‘Split’, and it’s not nearly as dark as either. Watching McAvoy seamlessly and effortlessly switch between his character's 24 distinct personalities, often right front of your eyes, is always an engrossing acting masterclass, but we’ve seen it before so it’s lost some of its thrill factor and lustre. He is a brilliant performer nonetheless. Willis’ character gets lost for the middle hour so there’s not much there for the BW fans, and Mr Jackson, while always bringing his A-game, is only given his moment in the spotlight during the film's epic letdown of a conclusion.
So after a series of failures for the once-sought after M. Night Shymalan, he came back with a vengeance with ‘Split’ only to, as it turns out, squander his “time in the light” once again and lead his once loyal fans to believe it was simply a fluke. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what he comes up with next.
NB - For those who will inevitably ask “Do I need to have seen the previous two films to get this one?” I first ask you this - why on Earth would you see the third film and only the third film of a trilogy? It makes no sense to me. And secondly, yes you need to have seen ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split’ to “get” this one. Of course these are not essential viewings, but you’ll get nothing from ‘Glass’ without the previous chapters to fill in the gaps and plot threads. Duh.