There’s nothing like a satisfying conclusion…even if you end up back into it and tripping over it…
In the conclusion of the trilogy 19 years in the making (that we never really knew was a trilogy to begin with); Glass actually ends up being half way decent thanks to three solid performances and in spite of some clunky narrative moments in a film that could have used a fair bit of tightening.
Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds David Dunn (Bruce Willis) pursuing Kevin Wendell Crumb’s (James McAvoy) superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
Nearly two decades in the making, this series of films kind of backed its way into calling itself a trilogy but Glass ends up being an interesting effort that is a little more talky then you’d expect but ends up delivering an effect little twist to make for a flawed but ultimately compelling film.
While it wasn’t the debut for writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, there aren’t many others out there where you can track such an obvious downward decline since The Sixth Sense made him a household name back in 1999. That being said, the creative decision to attach 2017’s Split and now Glass to the world of Unbreakable has seemingly put some creative pep back in the man’s step even though you can’t help to have the feeling that he was backing into a lot of these ideas on the fly.
He’s a very solid director as everything does have a solid look and feel about it to establish mood and really allow the characters to embrace their surroundings. However the script and the narrative itself does feel a little over stuffed at times and doesn’t always give a lot of balance to what it is trying to accomplish. The twists at the end are pretty decent, but unlike his most famous twist in The Sixth Sense so much of what happens in this film very much ends up playing in a very “oh by the way…” kind of fashion and that he was more concerned about revealing certain plot twists then about how he got us there.
There’s not a ton of effective build towards the climax as it either is rushing through material or it is wading through a little too much exposition for our liking and the film as whole wouldn’t have suffered cutting anywhere from 10-15 minutes from its running time, particularly in the first two acts of the film. Even in the close of all the action, the reveals are intellectually solid but never really resonate on the emotional level that I suspect Shyamalan was hoping for.
It does end in a fairly solid fashion allowing for a nice over all message to come through, something that is truly vital and inherent in the world of comic books to come across, but it landed so softly that we could have forgotten about it all if not for the performances from our three leads.
Where as he truly carried Unbreakable, here in Glass Bruce Willis just has to maintain what was already established in the first film of this ‘trilogy’. He comes across as solid and stoic, which quite frankly is exactly what the part calls for. James McAvoy ramps up the scenery chewing by having his Kevin Wendell Crumb bring out even more characters then we saw in Split and it is just entertaining as all hell to watch. He brings a frenetic energy to it all that is simply electric and by far steals the film. Meanwhile Samuel L Jackson brings his trademark stoicism and cunning logic to Mr. Glass that makes him both menacing and somewhat sympathetic as the narrative rolls on all at the same time. Opposite all three of these men is the usually stellar Sarah Paulson. She hardly bad in her role Dr. Elle Staple but she plays almost a little too stiffly at times especially considering that she is essentially the antagonist for our three main characters all throughout the movie. I’ll grant that this was no doubt by design but just a flash of her at least feeling mildly sinister would have gone a long way to make the seemingly benevolent but slightly clueless nature of her character feel more emotionally rounded rather than being as dry as it was.
Otherwise it was a nice touch for Shyamalan to bring by the likes of Spencer Treat Clark as Dunn’s son, Anna-Taylor Joy as Casey Cooke; the only person to survive ‘The Beast’ and Charlyane Woodard as Elijah’s mother to allow for the feeling of continuity to permeate through the film.
Ultimately while Glass tries a little to hard to over exposition us into accepting all of this as the end of trilogy, it also kind of works as a grander beginning on what comic books and comic book movies mean inside the current pop culture ethos. Yeah, it’s got its problems but it succeeds in what it’s attempting to do thanks to some great leading performances, in particular McAvoy who tears into all of his burgeoning personalities (and switches between them at the drop of a hat) with an oddly compelling sense of glee.