You know what’s fascinating about superpowers and super heroes. We all desire the ability to do amazing things and super heroes represent that ideal while still having to deal with everyday life no matter how much we may believe they can escape it.
Bruce Wayne; while a billionaire with a genius level intellect and distinction as the “World’s Greatest Detective,” still deals with the trauma from watching his parents being murdered right in front of him as a boy. Clark Kent as Superman is faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. FYI, Superman couldn’t fly when he first debuted in Action Comics. Yet, he is burdened with the ability to hear every cry for help in the entire world and not be able to help everyone.
If you ask me what’s even more fascinating; being a Super Villain. Those sensibilities are more appetizing to watch. While these extraordinary beings are still riddled with the same complexities and drawbacks as some of our favorite heroes; they have the ability for the most part compartmentalize, to create a disconnect from letting those feelings deter them from their goals. The Joker is a prime example of care free villainy without the inhibitions of genuine compassion.
Man; imagine if a successful Writer/Director had the ability to push a genre movie forward exploring those complexities of super heroes and villains and ask questions of the audience to provoke thought on us and society of our views in our contemporary thinking?
Well, Shyamalan You did it again.
We’ve given you rope to do what we hoped and not only did you hang us out to dry but you tied the rope into a noose and wrapped it round our necks.
Goodness gracious I was encouraged to ignore the early rumblings brewing from the press screenings of M. Night’s newest release; “Glass.” There was so much promise for the ending of this trilogy. “Unbreakable” was a Superhero movie ahead of its time and “Split” was a crowd-pleasing thriller with an unforgettable performance from its lead character that had a signature twist that not only expanded the universe and created the link between the 2 films. It opened the doors to “Glass” being the cherry on top of one of the most unique franchises in cinematic history.
19 years have passed in Philadelphia since a deadly train derailment left behind David Dunn (Bruce Willis) the sole-survivor, who crosses paths with Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson). Kevin (James McAvoy) who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and his 23 other personalities are still on the loose in the city and has an early showdown with David. The many personalities who refer to themselves as “The Horde” living inside of him are preparing 4 abducted girls to be dinner for the champion of The Horde; The Beast. David with the aid of his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) who are a tandem of vigilantes are on the hunt and find one of Kevin’s personalities nearby and look to thwart their plans. Just so happens that surveying authorities are waiting outside before the confrontation can finalize to apprehend them both. Enter in Dr. Ellie (Sarah Paulson) who has just a few days to convince these 3 individuals who are now in her care at the same institution with Elijah, that their lives up until now have been psycho-superhero delusions of grandeur.
Take what you will from that quick synopsis. On paper it doesn’t sound all the way bad.
We have intersecting heroes and villains now in a situation in which they need to desperately get out from. As an audience we are asked to suspend some disbelief. In the case of “Glass” the disbelief runs rampant. We have so much sub plot it appears M. Night doesn’t trust us after 19 years to get what’s going on for ourselves. It not only makes the script and overall product suffer but subverts the grand idea of exploring the breakdowns of super heroism in film and have a meta conversation about it.
Every character seems a bit lost waiting for someone to push them in the right direction. We’re left with more questions than answers. Uniquely the titular character of Elijah who calls himself Mr. Glass doesn’t utter a single word for over an hour into the film. It was actually a very good acting job. Sam L was subtle in ticks, in twitches and carried the right amount of eerie and intrigue the entire time. But when Elijah has the chance to demonstrate his super villain intellect he shows us exactly what we were waiting for and does so with charisma and flare. Question though, why have you been waiting so long to cause chaos when you seemingly had the ability to do so at any time? Seems to me Elijah has had a lot more than a few days to be cured of his affliction.
Bruce Willis on the other hand has lost his fast ball folks. It’s been a tragic decline in the veteran actor’s career and not only with his choice in jobs he takes but in what he produces on screen. In “Glass” every time David Dunn is onscreen he’s wooden in his delivery and seems to lack timing when performing with other characters. The best performances by Bruce are the call back scenes of him and his son from “Unbreakable.”
He is not helped at all in this film with some of the most awkward camera choices you can imagine for a super hero movie. There are times where the camera is so tight on our actors it doesn’t give them much room to move and in Willis’ case make it even more glaring how stunted he appears to be in this role. I can imagine the difficulty of choreographing a lot of the action as you get a sloppy zoomed in mess of fight sequences between The Beast and David.
I call this movie a mid-level Super Hero flick because it’s not flaunting a $100 million-dollar budget. That, requires the director to really craft together action sequences that your able to follow with yet still be impacted by the display of abilities we can only dream of. It looked more onscreen like preschoolers playing with action figures.
Now, that’s not to say there are not moments in the movie that don’t give you hope. There’s quite a few actually. Well now that I think about it, most of the movies moments are associated with McAvoy’s performance. He is just able to play and go and do so much and brings more of his chops to display and lets us see more personalities of The Horde which are induced by flashing lights. He was mesmerizing and without him in this movie we’d have an even more serious problem on our hands.
The Beast is meant to be the blunt instrument manipulated by Mr. Glass and used against David who now has the moniker as “The Overseer”. However, the more the film unravels the more compassion you gain for The Beast. I catch myself calling back the interactions between Kevin and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) and why The Beast didn’t kill her in the last movie. She returns to this film after learning her captor had been subdued and now feels led to resolve her pain by connecting with Kevin one more time. It’s very out of place for what this movie was proposed to be and has many hints of Stockholm Syndrome that seem quite of out of touch in today’s climate especially with a teenage girl.
As you can see, there’s so much going on it’s a challenge to stay focused on the primary goal. We’re all waiting to see how the 3 of them would escape and how the final showdown would take place. Mr. Glass craftily constructs an elaborate escape plan with the hopes of legitimizing his and all other super beings existence in a very public forum at a launch of a new tower in the heart of City Center. We knew that had to be it because it was shoehorned in the entirety of the film. Glass and The Beast had the ability and the means to make it where they needed to be.
Do they get there?
Of course not, it’s a super hero movie. We’d hope our hero would arrive in the nick of time to do what he does. However, the prospect of Bruce Willis in a tower set to explode would’ve been the most epic “Die-Hard” Easter egg ever and probably would be exactly what this film needed if not deserved. Instead we get an anticlimactic, shoving match between The Beast and The Overseer egged on by Mr. Glass donning a full purple Prince costume ruffles and all from his wheel chair. Just to have the dastardly plot device to occur. We get a “Martha” moment.
If you don’t know; the very divisive 2016 DC film “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” was the ultimate clash of the titans pitting both heroes against each other to an almost deadly end until Superman uttered the name Martha, which stopped Batman dead in his tracks from killing him with a Kryptonite spear. Martha is not only Clark’s mother’s name but also Bruce’s. How can you kill a man who so reminds you of yourself right? Back to “Glass,” Joseph while his father is locked up figures out the connection between Kevin and his dad. Kevin’s father was on the same train David was which was purposely derailed by Elijah. Joseph steps in between the 2 and shares the reveal. The Beast’s attention shifts to Mr. Glass, he further cripples him in his wheelchair with a “Beast Grip” to the shoulder, then David chimes back in with an awful one liner to unheroically start the fight back up and ultimately both characters die.
Oh, not by each other’s hands but by the authorities or so they seem that just arrive on scene. The Beast takes a bullet to the side, even though in “Split” he can survive a close-range shotgun to the chest. And David is drowned in a pothole revealing the twist and Dr. Ellie’s villainous affiliation with an entity or group of individuals who I’m going to call” Clover,” as depicted by a black clover tattoo on the officer’s hands and hers. Yeah you heard me. A shadow agency that seems to have existed for thousands of years works behind the scenes in concert with government and law enforcement to debunk and discredit the existence of super powered individuals.
Shyamalan you out did yourself. You had an opportunity to deliver a wholly original non-sourced super hero world waiting to be awakened. We could have had a powerful exit for Mr. Glass and possibly The Beast. We could’ve had an off into the sunset moment for The Overseer and have had their reveal to the world inspire a new age of heroes and villains who we would’ve been excited to see their stories be told.
But hey, would’ve, could’ve, should’ve…
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 6/10
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson
Run Time: 129 mins