As a fan of the works of M Night Shyamalan, the end of his 2016 film Split featuring James McAvoy in an award-worthy performance as a kidnapper with multiple personalities, filled me with anticipation. The brief appearance by the unbreakable David Dunn (Bruce Willis) indicated that not only were we in the brilliant world that Shyamalan had created sixteen years earlier in Unbreakable, but that there was more to come.
Indeed the story of David Dunn, Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy), and Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) does continue in Glass, but that which fans were greatly anticipating, plays out like a chore that Shyamalan needed to complete. And complete it he does by gathering our three characters in a mental hospital where Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is set on curing them by delivering the same speech over and over. You’re not superheroes so get over it.
The film is filled with contrived situations and inconsistent performances. Though the script provides marginal development of the character, McAvoy continues to amaze as he transitions between personalities. Sadly, Willis and Jackson are given little to do, and the supporting cast does little with what they are given. In some cases, such as the return of Spencer Treat Clark to the role of Joseph Dunn or the introduction of Sarah Paulson as the doctor, the inconsistency of the performances are quite distracting. In other cases, it appears there was no director on duty. There should be a level of intensity associated with four young girls being held captive in an abandoned building, yet our four cheerleaders are left staring at the camera in every scene as if begging for any kind of guidance. Anya Taylor-Joy reprises her role from Split but also seems to be wandering through the film with direction.
What makes Glass so hard to see your way through is the wasted potential. There are many opportunities here but it would appear that budget constraints leave us locked in the asylum and though we are teased by talk of the climax taking place at the new state-of-the-art building in the city, the big battle stalls in the parking lot.
At 129 minutes and over a dozen bonus features, you would optimistically conclude that there must be some entertainment value in this Blu-ray, DVD, Digital release from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment that hit store shelves on April 16. Sadly, other than McAvoy, there is not much here. Each of the bonus features is ridiculously brief and reflects little creative value or intent. “We need bonus material so let’s throw some together”.
Recommendation: Could we please Split this Unbreakable Glass into a hundred pieces and start over? That is certainly not to say that all the pieces need to be thrown away. There is always some enjoyment in visiting characters we have enjoyed in the past. Writer, director, and producer Shyamalan needs to focus more on the trip and less on insuring that the destination provides one of his signature twists.
In comparison to Unbreakable and Split, Glass is a disappointment. On its own, on a rainy Saturday afternoon when all you have access to is TBS, you could do worse.