Review: Glass

15 Jan 19

Blunt and Underwhelming

How incredibly underwhelming. Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy return with their supporting cast from Unbreakable and Split for this cross-over finale, Glass, but fail to meet the high expectations of the audience.
The film struggled with combining the clashing genres of its predecessors. With Unbreakable being a suspenseful drama while Split was more of a psychological thriller, Glass killed the energy of Split in the first act and ultimately failed to build on Unbreakable, showing no progress in David Dunn's character despite being a vigilante for 19 years now. Having a high action first act, before grinding to a halt for the second, it destroys the pacing of the film, to which it never truly recovers.
Despite the film being called Glass, it feels like that name was chosen purely to complete the trio (the personality of McAvoy's character being split, and Bruce Willis' character being unbreakable, and Samuel L. Jackson's character being as brittle as glass), as the film places so much more emphasis on McAvoy's character. McAvoy showcases several more of his 24 personalities, and while he does a great job giving each one their own distinctive touch, a large portion of the film is focused on him switching between identities, leaving Dunn (Willis) and Price (Jackson) shunned to the side for much of the runtime.
It makes sense as to why the marketing has put so much focus on mentioning the previous two films, as there are many flashbacks and callbacks to them, which would otherwise feel incredibly out of place. M. Night Shyamalan has never really mastered flashbacks or non-linear timelines, and it really shows. Each flashback ruins the flow of the film and is a reoccurring reminder that Glass is unable to stand on its own merits.
Perhaps it is simply a consequence of Shyamalan no longer trusting the audience to think, but there is no room for subtlety in this film. Everything must be fully explained, characters will spend entire scenes on nothing but exposition, and while the Shyamalan "twist" usually makes you see the entire film in a different light, it is not the case in Glass. The twist is telegraphed frequently throughout the film, through events and dialogue that you let pass at the time for the sake of the movie.
Sarah Paulson plays a new character introduced in the form of Dr. Ellie Staple, but for a character with so much screentime, we aren't really given any context, motives, or backstory. In the end, she comes off very one-dimensional.
Visually, the movie is mediocre. There are some stunning shots, using reflections among other things, and McAvoy, Willis, and Jackson still have their colour schemes from the previous films (yellow, green, and purple respectively), but otherwise, the environments are sterile, with some questionable wirework during the action scenes.
It has taken around 20 years for this trilogy to come about, but it still feels like the script and shooting for Glass was rushed. It spends so much time slowly building up towards the climax and then purposefully undercuts itself. Odd editing and inconsistent pacing don't help either. A disappointing end.