Glass, the final film in M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy that includes Unbreakable and Split, proves to be quite fragile. It does attempt to be a thoughtful deconstruction of the superhero mythos but it almost gets broken by its grand ambition. Partially because it’s rather disjointed in terms of character focus and also, it sometimes feels the need to spell out its comic-book parallels for the audience.
But in spite of its needless exposition, Glass still thrives thanks to its attempts at dissecting comic book lore within a psychological thriller canvas. Also, it boasts some killer villainous performances. After being best in show in the similarly uneven Split, James McAvoy is once again the MVP as Kevin Wendell Crumb aka “The Horde.” His ability to pull off various personalities and convincingly transition from one to another with the use of bodily tics proves to be quite masterful. This film is more proof that McAvoy is someone who brings it practically every time he’s on screen and should get his due already.
Samuel L. Jackson is also terrific as the sinister Elijah Price aka “Mr. Glass.” He mostly gets a handle on the heavy handed, expositional dialogue but he still delivers it expertly. However, because this is mostly a film about the villains, the other characters become more underdeveloped. Even Bruce Willis as David Dunn once he gets locked up in an asylum. It also doesn’t help that Willis nearly phones it in.
The female characters also don’t fare very well in terms of development. Anya Taylor-Joy reprises her role as Casey Cooke from Split and while she has a slightly larger role than the trailers suggest, her character still solely exists to prevent the negative personalities of Kevin from emerging. Particularly, “The Beast” which is the most dangerous personality of all of them.
Then there’s Sarah Paulson who plays Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychologist determined to make Kevin, David, and Elijah believe that their respective abilities are delusions of grandeur. Paulson expertly gives Ellie an aura of mystique to make us curious as to why she’s so interested in this supposed delusion.
As it turns out, the screenplay is quite flawed due to poor character utilizations and needless exposition. But M. Night Shyamalan still thrives on his direction. Thanks to his ability to give the film a contained setting, he’s able to maintain the inward psychological horror feel which the film possesses.
The innovative ambition of Glass also makes it a step above Split. Even if Split wasn’t terrible, it still had pacing problems and was a little too straightforward in terms of its storytelling. It even had similar issues regarding underdeveloped female characters. But Glass somewhat improved on that flaw even if the women aren’t as prominent as they should be.
In conclusion, Glass may be a flawed conclusion in its trilogy. However, it still thrives on its ambitious directing by M. Night Shyamalan despite some glaring script issues. Plus, it carries a tremendous performance by James McAvoy who’s another reason to buy a ticket to see this. Glass may be fragile but it’s not entirely broken.