Movie Review: Glass
PG-13 | 2h 9min
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson
by Jason Koenigsberg
Nineteen years ago M. Night Shyamalan was riding high on the success of The Sixth Sense (1999) and directed his follow up Unbreakable (2000) which is still his finest work to date. Then two years ago he made the solid thriller Split (2017) which was a surprise sequel of sorts to Unbreakable. Now his vision comes full circle as the characters he created collide in his newest film Glass which gets its name from Samuel L. Jackson’s villainous character in Unbreakable.
The opening shot is from a dark room facing a hallway and a door ajar with glass panes on it. James McAvoy’s character (or characters since he has multiple personality disorder) from Split walks through the doorway to reveal that he has teenage cheerleaders hostage. We see some peeling green paint on the walls to display this characters illness. Next enter Bruce Willis as David Dunn, the hero from Unbreakable. He is no longer working security at a stadium but has his own home security/vigilante business that he runs with his son played by Spencer Treat Clark, all grown up from Unbreakable. They work together to stop criminals in Philadelphia that they read about on the internet.
Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price/Mr. Glass does not show up until practically the second act. He is always in some sort of purple color and has a large head meant to symbolize his evil and brilliant mind. All of his early scenes he is in a catatonic state but once he starts speaking, his character really gets rolling and so does a lot of the action in Glass. Purple is a predominant color in the film to show that evil is always lurking whenever it is on screen. We also have Charlayne Woodard reprising her role as Elijah Price’s mother and Anya Taylor-Joy returns as the lone girl to survive James McAvoy’s rampage in Split and all three have important parts in the plot of Glass.
The only new character that plays a vital role is Sarah Paulson as a psychiatrist who specializes in personality disorders where her patients think that they are superheroes. Hard to believe that is actually a thing, but for the purposes of Glass, it works just fine. She is introduced wearing a white raincoat meant to symbolize either, that she is pure and true, or evil to contrast her white coat against the dark raincoat of Bruce Willis’ David Dunn, or that she is crazy. By the end of the picture, you will know which one she is. Her doctor character starts off seeming like a silly role with bad dialogue, but once the plot starts to unfold she fits right in with the other actors and their performances. At first, you might think she is going to be the Harley Quinn to Samuel L. Jackson as a Joker, but Glass goes in a different direction and it surprisingly works.
The script does make some sharp left turns since this is an M. Night Shyamalan film it does get convoluted and there are some twists that might seem far fetched and unnecessary at the end. Yet somehow Glass works. I was swept up in the narrative and some of the illogical elements did not distract from the dramatic performances. This is, after all, a movie about men who think they are superheroes or supervillains. It takes its content seriously and somehow it all comes together in a satisfying conclusion. I especially liked how the climax they used fist fights and kept it on a smaller scale, unlike every DC and Marvel superhero movie. Glass has very little CGI and in the climactic showdown at the end, Shyamalan chose to rely on practical effects and it benefitted the movie since this has a more realistic tone than the comic book movies we are inundated with. M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass is not perfect but it does not crack under pressure even though it might not shatter your expectations. The Glass is half full on this one and is worth taking a sip.
When I found out Bruce Willis was starring in a movie called Glass this is immediately what I thought of.