Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Starring James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard.
Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities.
It’s been 19 years since the release of Unbreakable and after many missteps in his career, M. Night Shyamalan has completed his intended trilogy. The tease of David Dunn at the end of Split (2016) left the door wide open for a bombastic finale bringing back our favourite characters. Glass is entertaining, thought provoking and at times messy.
David Dunn (Willis) has embraced his role as The Overseer and patrols the streets looking for people who’ve committed evil. He tracks Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy) who has kidnapped a group of cheerleaders as The Beast lies in wait; but ultimately they both end up in a psychiatric facility under the care of Ellie Staple (Paulson) along with Elijah Price (Jackson). Her ultimate goal is to convince them that they’re suffering from a delusion that they think they’re superheroes.
Unbreakable is rightly praised as providing a unique grounded look at the superhero genre and more specifically the construction of comic book narratives and whether they’re an expression of real superheroes who live among us. The exploration of this mythology is Glass’ key strength and whilst it is silly at times if you go with Shyamalan on his adventure it is hugely rewarding. Leading the mythology is Elijah/Mr Glass and his mastermind nature is compelling and fun to watch. The film does drag slightly until Samuel L Jackson’s gets to take charge and delivers a quietly intense performance. Usually a larger than life actor, in this understated performance he does so much with a small glance and a raise of his eyebrow.
As with Split, McAvoy is exceptional as Kevin Wendell Crumb, the man with 24 personalities. We see a lot more on show this time around and it’s fascinating to watch him have a conversation as 4+ different characters in one straight take. McAvoy is one of those actors who is rarely recognised for the exceptional work that he’s produced over the years. As Kevin he explores so many different characters and the physicality of his performance as The Beast is exhilarating to watch.
Balancing three such interesting and complex characters was never going to be easy and it’s Willis’ David Dunn that gets the short end of the straw. He simply doesn’t get much to do throughout the film. Still it’s nice to see Willis in a film that isn’t a straight to DVD action fest. Deleted scenes from Unbreakable are seamlessly added in to certain sections and it makes you wish that Dunn’s arc could have been more satisfying.
The final lead is Sarah Paulson, an actor who I’ve always found to be compelling and watchable in just about anything. But Glass does her a disservice and lumps her with a string of scenes where she repeats the same argument about superheroes not existing and that’s about it. For an actor of her calibre I was hoping for so much more.
As the final part of the trilogy, Shyamalan delivers on spectacle and scale. His observations about the comic book world are interesting and especially relevant in a time when superhero films and comics dominate. There are a few of the Shymalan traits that drag Glass down. There’s an odd cameo from the director himself, a few twists too many and some cringeworthy dialogue. Nevertheless Glass delivers a compelling story about the nature of superheroes and with a stellar performance from McAvoy it is a satisfying conclusion, 19 years in the making.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★