Cast: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
When looking at what January usually has in store for moviegoers, Glass appears to be the only major release I was genuinely excited for. Based off of Shyamalan’s last film Split, there was a decent chance that this film could be one of the early pleasures of 2019. In reality, we got a film that while well-acted and interesting falls into many of the pitfalls that Shyamalan has become known for. Led by a story that is both original and captivating and an incredibly intriguing performance by McAvoy, Glass had the potential for more, but is offset by gimmicky technical work and twists that come out of nowhere.
The film follows three men, Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy), David Dunn (Willis), and Elijah Price (Jackson), all of which have been given supernatural abilities either from birth or from traumatic experiences in their lives. All three are captured and placed under the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Paulson), a psychiatrist who specializes in patients who believe they have superpowers. Naturally, the three of them are unwilling to comply with Ellie’s requests and all plan on escaping back to the real world. Since all three have their own agendas, it becomes a battle of who is the most powerful in a society that fears them. The thing that prevents this movie from being one of Shyamalan’s worst is the performance of McAvoy as Kevin/The Horde. Similar to his performance in Split, Kevin’s power is that he has 24 different personalities living within him including The Beast, a creature with incredible strength that seeks nothing but power and will harm anyone that stands in his way. The fact that McAvoy can successfully switch between these personalities on a whim regardless of the age, gender, or accent that these personalities had is a testament to how talented he is in the role. In a cast as talented as this, McAvoy is the main standout a case study for what to do with a complex role. Outside of McAvoy, the story for the most part is one that is interesting and very aware of itself. If superheroes existed in our world, I’m fairly confident that this would be how they would operate. With their powers being enhanced but not invincible and the outside world telling them they are delusional, I’d imagine that this is how this story would play out if it existed in our reality. While McAvoy gives an elite performance and the story is for the most part interesting, the film is flooded with poor filmmaking choices that lead to the final act being rushed out to us in a nearly incomprehensible way. Shyamalan has a history of making stylistic choices not for the sake of impact, but for the sake of existence, and those are on full display in Glass. Random fading to black anytime there’s a transition? Check. Super close up shots that allow us to see a character’s nose hairs? Check again. A score that is woefully unbalanced and comes in out of nowhere? And the Shyamalan trifecta has been found. This occurs constantly throughout the first 3 quarters of the movie and it gets increasingly annoying as time passes. On top of this, the classic Shyamalan twist is here again, but much like some of his lesser-regarded films, the twist comes out of nowhere and needs a fair amount of explanation to make it work. In a movie like The Sixth Sense, if you look closely enough, you can see the twist happen before it is ever revealed, making it a movie with ample rewatch value and creative decision-making. In Glass, since many of the twist-related moments happen offscreen, we need a very detailed flashback scene to understand what is actually happening. This is a shame, because if the main twist was properly shown ahead of time, there’s a pretty solid chance that the final reveal is as exhilarating as the ones in Shyamalan’s past, but instead Glass ends up underwhelming an interesting premise and a strong performance.
Overall, I believe there’s a very good movie buried somewhere in this film, but the execution just never creates something that stands alone as something elite and uses boring tropes that weigh the movie down. While the performances, specifically from McAvoy and to a lesser extent Paulson, are entertaining and captivating enough to keep us enticed for the majority of the film, but they can only hold the movie up for so long. I’m underwhelmed because Shyamalan clearly cares about this universe, but there isn’t enough care in the world to make up for bad moviemaking.
Overall Score: 4/10