Movie Review | Glass
Movie summary: Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities. (IMDb)
Like most M Night Shyamalan movies, Glass contains twists and they are going to make the story a nightmare to talk about, and this is one of the rare times that I really do want to talk about the story! This is going to be tricky.
Glass completes the 'trilogy' that began with Unbreakable - which is excellent - and surprisingly continued with Split - which I haven't seen - and I can see this movie, and the ending in particular, really messing with how some people view all three movies.
Even I'll admit that there was more than one occasion during Glass that made me mutter 'Really?' under my breath in disbelief at what I was seeing, but I can't deny that I still absolutely enjoyed the movie when taking it as a whole.
The biggest of those moments was when I thought I'd figured out a character's true motivation early on, only for the movie to slowly convince me otherwise, before revealing that my initial guess was correct! Only, rather than being satisfying for figuring it out, I was annoyed that my initial - and very early guess - turned out to be entirely correct.
That isn't me boasting, it's a lament for who lacking in imagination the reveal felt to me. Glass had done well to start making me think I was wrong, only for the 'twist' to be revealed without any real fanfare or drama - although that does fit the movie in a way.
If you go into Glass expecting a typical superhero movie, you will be immensely disappointed and probably dislike the movie a lot for how little it plays up the more fantastical elements. If you've seen and liked Unbreakable, you should be fine with how subdued it all feels.
Hell, if you're a Batman fan you might enjoy this because it wouldn't be too difficult to see this as an Elseworlds story for the Dark Knight, especially with how James McAvoy's Horde instantly becomes obsessed with Bruce Willis' Overseer, feeling very much like a fantastic origin story for a long-term rivalry.
While they are dead-set on defeating each other from their first encounter onward, the movie isn't interested in setting up that kind of rivalry, which I was fine with, but their final fates certainly did disappoint me. It felt a lot like the story across multiple movies was one giant tease to get to that final scene.
That final scene is actually really good, with us effectively witnessing the birth of a world of heroes and villains, but the third act feels so anti-climactic that it doesn't quite satisfy or resonate in the manner it really should.
Now, I haven't mentioned Samuel L Jackson's titular character yet, and that's because he has a lot less involvement than I thought he would. As it turns out, he's more involved than you realise, but it's quite a while before he even appears, and even longer before he becomes an active participant in events.
Again though, all of this feels very deliberate on the part of Shyamalan: setting up a certain expectation based on more recent superhero movies and completely ignoring that path to continue forging ahead with his own story regardless of whether the audience will like it.
It's certainly a decision to be respected and it does give Glass a unique tone and sensibility unlike anything you'll ever see offered up by Marvel Studios or DC. It really does all depend on just how much you buy into the story that the movie is telling.
Certainly, the performances are excellent: Willis fits perfectly as the gruff veteran, McAvoy puts in an awards-worthy masterclass of convincing you he really is two dozen different people in one head, and Samuel L Jackson is coldly perfect as the calculating Elijah.
Sarah Paulson is also fantastic as Ellie Staple, who spends the movie trying to convince the trio that they are just regular people with delusions of grandeur, but finds herself outmanoeuvred and with her control of the situation ripped away from her in an unexpected fashion.
I really, really enjoyed Glass but I will admit that it is a tricky film to recommend. There's so much stuff here that feels like if it had been taken even just a half-step further, then it could have been something iconic, but Shyamalan seems to actively avoid this to keep it as grounded and realistic as possible.
One last gripe I will have is that the movie doesn't seem to have too much faith in its audience at times, with some of the dialogue not exactly being preachy, but unnecessarily expository in nature, explaining things in detail when we can see really bloody clearly what's going on.
And, I don't know if it was intentional to borrow from Alan Moore's Watchmen, but making Mister Glass both Ozymandias - as by far the smartest person in the movie - and Rorschach - the one who brings everything crashing down - was brilliant and is what justifies the movie's name.
Glass is a very good film that fall just short of greatness by trying to be a little too clever about what it's doing. The cast are great, and the story is really good too until the 'twists' start piling up, leaving the third act a bit 'messy', which is unfortunately what most people will take away from this movie.