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Review: ‘Glass’ is an unsatisfying conclusion to Shyamalan’s superhero saga

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Posted - Jan 17th, 2019 @ 3:02pm



THE LIGHT — “Glass,” the latest film from master of twists M. Night Shyamalan, is the culmination of a trilogy 19 years in the making.

Shyamalan’s bizarro superhero saga started with 2000’s “Unbreakable,” which stars Bruce Willis as a man with superhuman strength and Samuel L. Jackson as a brittle-boned, comics-obsessed mastermind.

The series continued clandestinely with “Split” in 2016, which featured James McAvoy as a man with 24 distinct personalities, including a menacing one nicknamed “The Beast.”

Theoretically, “Glass” was meant to give viewers some closure. I left the theater with more questions than answers, though.

The movie has some thrilling moments, some good acting performances and a great musical score. But overall, “Glass” has too many broken fragments and leaves viewers to pick up the pieces.

Here are some reasons why the movie doesn’t work but may be worthwhile for some.

The acting is uneven

Many of the cast members from “Unbreakable” and “Split” have returned for “Glass,” including Willis, McAvoy and Jackson, as well as Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard.

Sarah Paulson joins the ensemble as a doctor who treats people who are convinced they are superheroes.

McAvoy’s performance was the best thing about “Split.” He’s literally playing 24 different characters in these movies, and he switches between them instantly. It’s impressive work. McAvoy shines again in “Glass,” taking over each scene he’s in with a monumental presence.

Jackson is also excellent, although he doesn’t have much to do for the first half of the film. It’s hard to forget you’re watching him considering the type of personality he has. But Jackson does a great job here of playing a deranged, obsessive madman with nuance.

The rest of the performances, though, are underwhelming.

Paulson, who is usually great, is overdoing it in most of her scenes. It’s hard to believe the sympathetic psychiatrist that she’s going for.

Taylor-Joy, another excellent talent, is squandered. She's in very few scenes, and the moments she does have are filled with really cliché dialogue.

Willis, on the other hand, seems to be sleepwalking.

The movie has too many characters. If Shyamalan left out one or two, the result would have been a more focused film with better character development.

The ending is a mess

Shyamalan became known in Hollywood for including a twist in many of his films. In “Unbreakable,” as well as “Signs,”“The Village” and “Split,” there’s a plot element you don’t see coming.

Without getting into any spoilers, be prepared for “Glass” to have a similar ending. In fact, this movie might have more twists and turns in its final act than the rest of Shyamalan’s filmography.

These make the final 45 minutes of “Glass” a convoluted mess. It seems like Shyamalan shot a lot of footage but was unable to edit it down to anything coherent.

The result is a very confusing and unsatisfying conclusion to his trilogy. Too many scenes are splattered in haphazardly, and audiences are left to connect the dots to figure out how they’re all connected.

Jackson’s comics-obsessed Mr. Glass has gone to great — and evil — lengths to search for connections between the mythology of comic books and real life.

Shyamalan uses that character trait as a framing device of sorts in “Glass.” It’s an interesting idea in practice, but his execution is off. The metaphors end up feeling forced and heavy-handed.

It’s one thing to keep your viewers on their toes by surprising them with something unexpected. But cramming a bunch of new interlocking plot threads into the end of your movie is just bad filmmaking.

Conclusion

“Glass” isn’t all bad.

If you enjoyed “Unbreakable” and “Split,” you’ll likely find some satisfaction in the trilogy’s third installment. It’s also fun just to see more scenes featuring the memorable characters of these movies.

I loved the gritty, almost dirty, way Shyamalan shot his adopted hometown of Philadelphia in “Unbreakable” and “The Sixth Sense.” Again, in “Glass,” the clever cinematography has a way of making the city feel ominous. The dark, sparse musical score also amps up the dangerous feeling.

The movie has a couple of thrilling action sequences, as well as some engaging dramatic scenes, especially when McAvoy and Jackson are on screen together.

If you liked the previous two films in this series, you might find “Glass” enjoyable. But don’t expect everything to make sense when you leave the theater.

Check KSL.com tomorrow for a content guide to "Glass" for parents.

"Glass" is rated PG-13 for violence including some bloody images, thematic elements, and language.

Jacob Klopfenstein

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