Landon Hilst | Echo
"Glass" is the newest film from visionary director M. Night Shyamalan and stars Samuel L. Jackson in the title role as the devious Elijah Price, a.k.a Mister Glass.
Mild spoilers follow for "Split" and "Unbreakable".
Let's wind the clocks back to the year 2000 when the X-Men were just beginning to break new ground into the superhero genre and Jim Carrey's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was at the top of the box office. M. Night Shyamalan was hot off the heels of "The Sixth Sense" and decided to create his own spin on the modern superhero with a little film called "Unbreakable."
In "Unbreakable," Bruce Willis is David Dunn, the sole survivor of a massive train wreck that leads him to discover he is impervious to harm. This revelation causes David to meet Elijah Price (Jackson). Price suffers from Osteoporosis, the "brittle bone" disease, but also has an unwavering respect for comic book characters, having studied heroes and villains alike while recovering from numerous bone breaks over the years. Elijah reveals himself to David as the master criminal Mister Glass and is promptly placed into Police custody.
Unbreakable is only half of the key components brought together in "Glass." The other half can be found in Shyamalan's 2016 thriller "Split," starring James McAvoy. Here, a young woman, Casey, is kidnapped by a man with multiple personalities.
Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy) possesses 23 unique identities that can emerge at various times to take possession of Kevin's body. Three of these personalities form their own coalition to bring forth a powerful new 24th personality, The Beast, and unleash it upon the world, starting with Casey.
These previous Shyamalan films are crucial to understand when going into "Glass," as it was revealed that "Split" operated as an undercover sequel to "Unbreakable" just before the credits rolled. With these films suddenly thrust into the same universe as one another, fans eagerly awaited to see the impervious David Dunn confront the unstoppable Beast.
So, does it live up to the hype? If you are looking for another incredible performance from James McAvoy juggling 23 separate characters seamlessly, yes, it more than delivers.
However, if it's a well-paced narrative involving interesting themes to reflect on, paired with exhilarating action spectacles, then this may not be the film for you. Shyamalan opts for a story that moves slowly, trading those high octane battles for a confined struggle in a mental institution to delve into the psyches of our patients: David, Elijah and Kevin. For those awaiting a conclusion to this secret trilogy, that decision may turn out to be a disappointing let down.
The first act sets up something that could have been compelling, and Mister Glass' schemes are engaging, but Shyamalan's ultimate purpose for these characters doesn't work, especially with a third-act twist that leaves it inconsequential anyways. Sarah Paulson's psychiatrist doesn't make sense and what was once a fascinating dive into comic book themes in "Unbreakable" now feels overtly trivial in "Glass."
While it is respectable to take the story in a different direction than audiences anticipated, the execution in "Glass" felt broken and unthorough. The saving grace lies in the return of David and Elijah's characters after 19 years and the performances of Jackson and McAvoy, whose skill and presence on screen stand out and warrant the price of admission.