More interesting than half of the superhero movies released in the last three years.
There’s nothing I hate more than people talking about how shitty a movie is, while they’re waiting outside the theatre to see it for the very first time. Sure, you may have read a review that trashed the movie, but at least wait until you see it to formulate your own opinion. Over the weekend I saw Glass (2019), a movie that’s being torn apart by critics, and I’m here to tell you that I didn’t think it was nearly as bad as people are saying. The movie absolutely has its flaws and is far from perfect, but I ended up really enjoying the latest thriller from writer and director M Night. Shyamalan.
The final instalment in Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy (2000 – 2019), Glass is the last chapter in a story that began with Unbreakable (2000) and continued in Split (2016). Sidenote, you can check out my review for Unbreakable here. This time around, Glass finds the invulnerable David Dunn kept inside the same mental institution as his arch-enemy Mr. Glass, and new enemy, Kevin Wendell Crumb. As heroes and villains collide, Dr. Ellie Staple, a mysterious figure running the institution, insists that her patients’ beliefs that they are superhuman is all in their head, and attempts to cure them of their delusion.
I loved Unbreakable and regardless of the final product, was really excited for Glass. I was so enthralled by the world Shyamalan had created and couldn’t wait to revisit it and catch up with David Dunn 19 years later. On this note, Shyamalan did not disappoint. Shyamalan has expertly aged his characters so that where they are in Glass, both emotionally and physically, feels like the next natural step in their lives. Bruce Willis plays Dunn with the same strength of character as he did almost two decades ago but adds a new layer of confidence to his portrayal. This is a David Dunn, now going by the name, “The Overseer,” who has settled into his role as a hero. His character and motivations are established quickly and it’s so entertaining to see him adjust to his double-life as home security salesman by day, and vigilante by night. Especially with his son Joseph, played by Spencer Treat Clark from Unbreakable, as the Wade to David’s Kim Possible. It makes me wish that we could have gotten a sequel sooner so that we could have had 19 years worth of adventures with the Dunns.
It’s impossible to talk about Willis’ David Dunn without mentioning Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price, AKA Mr. Glass. Time has also moved Elijah forward, though less kindly so. Having spent the last two decades locked away has done little to improve Elijah’s twisted mind, and the arrival of other extraordinary beings only strengthens his theory that superheroes walk among us. Jackson owns this role. Once again, Jackson does so much while doing so little. As the immobile and supposedly braindead Price, Jackson relies on only his facial expressions for the better half of the movie. Calculating, unpredictable, and as shrewd as ever, he effortlessly steps back into the role that should be counted among his best. Jackson always manages to pull off intimidating and domineering, but once you couple that with the amazing dialogue Shyamalan gives his villains, you have a real villainous force to be reckoned with. A mastermind in every sense of the term, Jackson makes sure that Mr. Glass comes off as a character you would never dream of crossing. Well Mr. Jackson, you succeed. I salute you.
Completing the Glass trifecta is James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a role that I can only describe as “delightfully creepy.” Watching McAvoy juggle 14 of Kevin’s distinct personalities is like watching the decathlon of acting. It’s jaw-dropping to watch as McAvoy easily shifts from a middle-aged woman, to a teenage girl, to a nine-year-old boy all within the same scene. McAvoy is in fine form as not only does he get to claim the best performance in a movie filled with actors at the top of their game, but is also responsible for providing Glass with much-needed comedic relief. McAvoy cuts the darkness and tension of the movie by slipping into one of his many characters, most notably Hedwig, a love-struck nine-year-old who tries to convince everyone how cool he is. Was I expecting to laugh out loud during this movie? Certainly not. But there I was alongside a theatre of movie-goers laughing at the antics of James McAvoy. Don’t let the humour fool you. McAvoy can still be unpredictably terrifying and his portrayal of “The Beast” may just be one of the best original supervillains ever put to film.
As a whole, Glass is little smudged. There are definite positives such as the incredible performances, the sharply-written dialogue, and the astounding use of colour, but there are unfortunately just as many negatives weighing down the abundance of creativity. The most egregious of which is the overly long runtime. Shaky editing and poor pacing make Glass about a half hour longer than it needs to be, the price you seemingly pay when trying to squeeze three movies worth of characters into one grand finale. I also took real problem with Sarah Paulson as Dr. Staple. Her performance, true to form, was impeccable as always, but the dialogue she was given was about 65 per cent medical jargon. It’s things like that that slow down a movie that’s already struggling with pacing issues.
I can’t say I hated Glass. Far from it. It’s a thriller that delivers intrigue and tension, with a healthy amount of superhero action and introspective character study thrown in for good measure. The ending, though admittedly indecisive, I feel is an appropriate end to a series that’s been almost 20 years in the making. With the completion of Glass, Shyamalan has crafted a trilogy that comes full circle, telling one complete story. If you’re a fan of Unbreakable and Split, or even just looking to have a good time at the movies, I say give Glass a chance. Whether you love it or hate it, take pride in the fact that you judged it 100 per cent based on your own opinion. Have fun!
Have you seen Glass? Do you think it deserves the hate its been getting?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!