A clause must exist in every M. Night Shyamalan contract that says he must include a grunt in at least every page of a script. Nearly every couple of minutes, characters emit weird grunting noises.
Directed by Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs), Glass stars Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard.
The culmination of Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and Split have led to an Avengers-style team up-brawl that pits security guard David Dunn (Willis) against abnormally intelligent Elijah Price (Jackson), once again, as well as the multiple personality embodiment of evil Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy).
Shyamalan is a talented artist, but he has a certain niche that he needs to stay in if he’s going to please critics, audiences and the box office. Recently, he has found that pattern once again with Split after a piss-poor streak of films spanning almost his whole career.
I was understandably excited for Glass and how it would incorporate topics I identify with most, including psychology, comic books and film. Though the build-up is satisfying and keeps you guessing on what Dunn, Crumb and Price will do next when held in a mental health hospital, the third act falls on its face.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked what Shyamalan is doing with his films now. I think he should stick with this type of genre bending, specifically dark comedy and thrillers. He just needs to fine tune each part of the film. The third act is always a make or break. I wasn’t as disappointed as some critics because of how fun the journey is to get there.
Glass is a fun and deranged time at the movies.
The psychology-based elements of the movie are an essential part of the script. Shyamalan makes it work, paired up with Paulson’s psychiatrist character Dr. Ellie Staple and McAvoy as Crumb, who has dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.
An all too real thing, dissociative identity disorder is showcased with the amazing McAvoy once again reprising his role from Split. It’s important to know that movies do exacerbate the symptoms, but it’s interesting and nice to see a community be represented in some way.
Without any spoilers, Crumb isn’t exactly your typical super villain. He is someone who needs help and who is manipulated. To a certain point, he is a victim. Yes, he’s killed people, but those were the other personalities taking over his mindset. Crumb himself is a sick man who is harmless.
Glass is only a movie. Whether you agree that mental health is presented in a good or bad light, it still starts a conversation to learn more.
But during the third act, the film ends up losing balance. Shyamalan messed up on the script by knocking the audience on the head with how the comic book story structure is made.
It’s honestly quite cringeworthy when written dialogue is shouted on screen like “This is where the heroes meet,” or “The final act!”
Up until then, Glass nodded to the super hero realm and comic books, but it didn’t have a justification to literally say what happens in a story structure.
Remember Stranger than Fiction with Will Ferrell and Queen Latifah?
What if that was a thriller instead? It would be weird, wouldn’t it?
The audience understands the fourth wall is being broken. Shyamalan understood that until the very end when he jumps through the wall then uses a hammer to take down what’s left of the wall, just to make sure every piece is off; it’s overkill.
Even if the face-palming lines were fixed, I’m not able to get over Shyamalan’s overuse of what looks like a blend of close-up and talking head shots. They only involve one character, normally, looking straight at the camera like the audience is the person being spoken to.
Shyamalan is being artsy and pretending that all of this is happening to the audience, and to some degree it works—notably, Dr. Staple trying to shape the minds of the three heroes/villains into thinking there’s a perfectly logical explanation to why they think they have supernatural abilities.
I can get behind this directing decision, but there’s a moment where I thought that it was being too smart for its own good. Glass doesn’t need all these shots. I understand the need to immerse the audience, but there are other ways to accomplish this. Shyamalan has potential, i.e. his script.
With the worst out of the way, I still recommend Glass because of its ingenuity. There are superhero movies aplenty in today’s cinema world, but there aren’t movies willing to take risks like Shyamalan does with Glass.
There are moments that shine through, namely the McAvoy as ‘The Horde,’ Crumb’s alter ego for his personalities, the psychological and terrifying levels that the story starts out as and the interactions between the Crumb, Dunn and Price.
I don’t really like most of Shyamalan’s films, but I can respect his decisions as a filmmaker.
The only exception is Avatar: The Last Airbender. He needs to remember his crappy past to make a better future, so his filmography doesn’t end up knee deep in elephant dung.