Updated: Jan 24, 2019
For a film that has been trashed as a potential “career killer” and an unsatisfying note to what is shockingly a trilogy, the entire press in Atlanta seemed to trudge into the screening with little to no expectations. And when I eventually came out of the theater, with all 129 minutes fulfilled, my impressions of the film couldn’t be any more shocking. Glass is a wonderful film that takes bold, new risks with its characters that heightens its thematic material. As a filmmaker, Shyamalan proves that he interested in not just developing a fantastic roster of characters but also divulging a revealing story that has a conclusion that leans heavily on integrated themes and symbolism. And by the very end, Shyamalan also proves that if it benefits the story, he will heartily take bold decisions with his already-loved cast of characters, from James McAvoy’s devilishly charming performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb to returning Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson from Unbreakable.
In this regard, it’s hard not to see why Glass could turn off so many fans and critics and cause them to eject far too soon. But in my personal experience, I found the film immensely enjoyable and satisfying even if its start to feel cluttered as it heads into the third act. Shyamalan proves once again that he is a master of suspense storytelling, blending dynamic sequences with his three main leads that are fascinating to watch in a profound way. And just the sheer shock and joy of seeing Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and James McAvoy in their iconic roles back on the screen is more than enough to warrant a watch. Burdened by a stiff middle portion of endless monologues from Sarah Paulson, Glass propels itself past its naysayers into something new and fresh with ideas.
Taking place after both Unbreakable and Split, train crash survivor David Dunn is a local vigilante, using his abilities or “gifts,” as repeatedly labelled by Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass, to contribute to society as best as he can. This path leads him to James McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb, a haunting man who can portray up to twenty-four personalities. Saying anymore would potentially ruin the experience, since Glass is chockful of surprises for every Shyamalan fan. However, although it certainly has tricks to show up its sleeves, the real backbone of the storyline is rather misguided and pompous.
The majority of the 129-minute feature is spent at one location…the Riverhead Asylum, most likely due to budget restrictions. And such a restriction is clearly shown. For a film that is projected to open with an astounding 50 million on its opening weekend, the fact that Universal couldn’t afford pumping anything more than 20 million into its production budget perplexes me. And even more than serving as a confusing decision, it damages the film significantly. It constrains Shyamalan into having to constantly cycle through philosophical monologue sequences from Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple.
These sequences aren’t anything unique or dynamic. They are stiff, under baked, and each line is derivative of the last one. Halfway through the film, she had quickly maintained a position as the most frustratingly dull character in the entire film, a strange combination given the unique qualitative perks that each of the three main leads have.