Released on January 18th, Glass is the highly-anticipated thriller that brings together three of M. Night Shyamalan’s past film superheroes. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles from Unbreakable (2000), and James McAvoy’s character from Split (2016) completes the trio. Glass serves as the last installment in Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy.
Having not seen either of the first two films in the trilogy was perhaps my first mistake. It made it more difficult to get into the film and understand some of the subplots. Nevertheless, Glass somewhat works as a standalone movie, but it has some flaws that go beyond a viewer’s lack of experience with the characters.
The film is categorized as a superhero thriller, but it quickly becomes clear that there is a heavy mystery component as well. David Dunn/The Overseer (Willis), Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Jackson), and The Horde (McAvoy) have been captured and brought to a psychiatric facility, where Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) wishes to study them. Her reasoning is that each man suffers delusions of grandeur, a real psychiatric condition in which patients have a delusional belief that they possess superhuman powers. Dr. Staple spends most of her dialogue trying to convince the men and their loved ones that the men’s unusual powers can be explained away by science, exaggeration, and childhood trauma.
Dr. Staple’s research creates the element of mystery: Is she lying about her motives? Does she have a hidden agenda? Is she going to keep the men captive in the facility forever? Unfortunately, she tries to convince the men that they aren’t superheroes in every scene she’s in, and she repeats her “delusions of grandeur” theory so often that it starts to get a little stale and repetitive. As a viewer, I almost started hoping that she did have some sinister ulterior motive, because otherwise the basis of the film’s plot was incredibly weak. Regardless of whether she turned out to be good or evil, the incessant hammering of the “delusions of grandeur” idea made the movie a bit boring.
Another issue with Glass was the pacing. The movie is two hours long, but could easily have been made as a 90-minute flick. Random thirty-second clips were inserted throughout the film just to show more of the supporting characters, but those clips added nothing to the plot. Most of the film operates at about 20 miles per hour, then at the very end it accelerates to 70 before crashing. Without giving too much away, the climax at the end of the film is disappointing, and there is little resolution afterward.
Still, that’s not to say that Glass has no redeeming qualities. James McAvoy gives another great performance as The Horde, a man with 23 different personalities, one of which is “The Beast,” a deadly half-human half-animal with super strength. Seeing McAvoy rapidly switch between a variety of distinct personalities was impressive and added some humor to the film. The storylines of the two other men, The Overseer and Mr. Glass, seemed underdeveloped and underutilized to me.
Overall, seeing this film only made me want to go back and watch Split, the film starring McAvoy. I’m sure there are better superhero movies out there, and I’m sure there are more captivating mystery movies as well. I would recommend, at the very least, saving your money and waiting until Glass is released on streaming services.