M. Night Shyamalan has clawed his way back from utter disgrace his last REAL, resounding hit being 2002’s Signs, my own personal favorite film of his. Then he took an elevator going down with one piece of crap film after another. The Village was good for the first hour, but tipped its hand way too early to viewers. Then we were subjected to The Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth. Each one was progressively worse than the previous film. He partially rebounded with some viewers with 2015’s The Visit, a film I thought was extremely average but considering the previous garbage, I could get through it. Split was decent but still not up to the old M. Night Shyamalan’s potential.
The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs being his trifecta of fantastic films, we have waited long and hard for Mr. Shyamalan to show us some of his previous brilliance. Glass being the third film in this franchise featuring David Dunn, the hero (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) but only the second featuring Kevin Wendell Crumb or The Beast among his twenty-four personalities (all played by James McAvoy). Starting with Unbreakable, then Split and now Glass, for those keeping score. So far the reviews have been more negative than positive for Glass, so as I trudged to the theater, I was not quite sure what to expect.
Although Glass is not up to the potential of the first three films of Mr. Shyamalan, it is his best film since Signs. I could understand why people have been disappointed with it, but it is the same reason I rather enjoyed it. I have been saying that Mr. Shyamalan needs to get back to basics and keep things simple. He has a gift for slow boiling stories with richly drawn characters in stories that are believable, to a certain extent. Reality and fantasy seem to co-exist with M. Night Shyamalan’s films. Glass is a return to his roots, so to speak. This is a dialogue driven film, for the most part with some violence but the violence evolves out of these characters and their stories so it works.
The three main characters of Dunn, Price and Crumb have all been thrown into the same mental institution under the supervision of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). All having rooms right next to each other, it is only a matter of time before the three “patients” mix it up, so to speak. Dunn’s young son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark who played the young Joseph in Unbreakable) is obviously concerned about his father. Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) the only survivor of Split, seems to be inexplicably sympathetic to Kevin, even though The Beast killed her two friends in Split. Charlayne Woodard is Elijah’s mother who seems to know more about Elijah’s potential than she lets on.
Mr. Shyamalan does a good job of not showing us his cards, so to speak, too early. He takes his time with this story and builds it up rather nicely. One thing to note is that Glass is not a special effects extravaganza. This is not a Marvel or DC comic book film, laden with visuals, flash and pizzazz. As I stated earlier, this is a dialogue driven film that gets into the minds of its players especially with Kevin played brilliantly by James McAvoy. I have said that James McAvoy is one of the most versatile actors in the history of Hollywood and I stand by that statement. He is nothing short of incredible in Glass. I honestly don’t know how he is able to channel all of the personalities his character possesses without going insane for real.
Glass is beautifully shot by cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, who worked with Mr. Shyamalan on Split as well as film score composer West Dylan Thordson who provides a startling but beautiful score to Glass. Mr. Shyamalan’s script is an immense improvement over some of his previous fare and it is deserved of praise. He self-financed Split and now, Glass and clearly is regaining his passion for simply telling stories. I must say I respect his passion to pursue projects like this and to believe in the stories he wants to tell in this series. Granted Glass is a bit more involved and will turn off some, but this is what I have been waiting for since 2002.
There has been a lot of criticism about the ending of Glass and I will admit it is the weakest link of this film but not because it is poorly directed. In classic Shyamalan fashion, he misdirects the audience. He zigs when we think he will zag. I can understand how it would make some viewers angry. I was not, though, however and there is a point in Glass in which one character refers to this as an “origins story” and Glass is left wide open for a new beginning, of sorts. I understood why he went the direction he did and we will see how that pans out in the future. That is all I will say about the plot.
Overall, I was pleased with the result of Glass. Yes, I have questions and curiosities with some of the film’s elements but with a budget of twenty million dollars, Shyamalan has put the money to good use. We will see where he goes from here. Glass is a crisp, astute and intelligent thriller and although it misses the true greatness of Shyamalan’s earliest works, this is a good film in its own right. For years we have been screaming for original film making; something different and challenging to the viewer. Glass, although not perfect, is pretty darn close.
Glass – **** out of 5
Glass – Rated PG-13 for some graphic violence, scenes of terror some language and adult situations
Glass – Run time is 129 minutes. There are some conflicting postings on the run time of Glass. Some have it clocked in at 110 (1 hour and 50 minutes). This is incorrect. Glass is a solid 129 minutes, including credits with NO post credit scenes.
Glass is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.