If there’s one thing we know for sure about M. Night Shyamalan after his long turbulent career, it’s that he never quite plays to expectations. Glass is no different in this regard. It reunites the protagonists from Unbreakable and Split to conclude his trilogy in satisfying and yet far from crowd-pleasing fashion.
Glass picks up a few weeks after the events of Split and starts of fast and strong. We’re thrown back into the characters lives and there is a delight in seeing these people you originally thought to be from different worlds come together and inhabit one. It remains suspenseful and intriguing and you’re never sure where it’s going. However, in the middle act, it slows down to a snail’s pace. It goes in narrative circles with minimal plot progression.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t give the characters a lot to do during this time and even keeps their interactions minimal. It’s during this long stretch that Glass truly tests your patience. In the last act, it finally picks up the pace, makes all its reveals and comes together as a different and satisfying take on comic book stories. I expect the ending to be very divisive. As earlier mentioned, I was satisfied but it’s far from the crowd pleasing and more generic finale that film seemed to be headed towards half way through.
Bruce Willis is back as David Dunn but is lacking any of the charisma of his first go around. The way his character is handled is among the biggest disappointments of the film. Underwritten and paper thin, he gets through the role in restrained fashion and doesn’t have any impactful or memorable moments. Samuel L. Jackson however, dives right in to his meatier role and delivers a bold performance. There are moments when even he falls victim to some weak writing. James McAvoy is the bravura act of the film that doesn’t miss a beat. He brings alive each distinct personality and is truly a revelation in scenes that require him to rapidly switch between multiple ones. The supporting cast is fine and doesn’t have a lot to do.
Glass well utilizes its cinematography, music, and setting to create a mood of claustrophobia and simultaneous suspense through the narrative. I was frustrated and intrigued all at the same time. I wish it was more consistently engaging and better paced. But I also adore its boldness in making the audience wait until the very end to truly understand what went on (classic Shyamalan). That’s a narrative trope explored far less nowadays and it was refreshing to see it in the mainstream again.
Glass is the weakest among the trilogy, and still makes for a satisfying conclusion to this tale of extraordinary people. The narrative explores interesting themes and ideas and stands out as being a unique cinematic experience. It’s just a shame that it wasn’t a very gripping one.