Glass (***) Holds enough

Glass – 2018

Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodward

When the dust settles and we once more ponder the almost greatness of M. Night Shyamalan, an important discovery should not go without mentioning. For much of its 129 running minutes, Glass is a good film, at times bordering on great. The soundtrack is a riveting mixture of the first two films in this series with some nice concepts mixed into this third film meant to be the “beginning of a universe.”

The story is silly, by any analytical measure. David Dunn (Willis) is captured, after a nice reintroduction to his character, The Overseer. We first saw him in Unbreakable, along with Samuel L. Jackson, known to us as Mr. Glass. He’s been working with his son, Joseph (Clark, also back from the first film) as a vigilante team.

The way he is captured, and why he allows it, is the first of many constraints of the plot. Just about any time Dr. Ellie Staple (Paulson) speaks one can hear the strain of credibility bending over backwards to push the story where Shyamalan wants us to follow.

Along with Dunn at the institution, we have Glass and McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb (a.k.a. The Horde) The Horde is the titular character of Split, where he has over 23 personalities. This time around, they’ve conveniently narrowed it down to around 11. McAvoy’s performance is still only partially effective. Some of the characters have great lines, others not so much. The worst thing about the character is the decision to have him announce who he is from one moment to another so we can keep up. It’s goofy and pedestrian. They should have taken a few more passes at the script or just use fewer personalities.

Jackson is, quite predictably, the best character in the film. He’s made to seem drugged into a sort of catatonia early in the story. Once they allow him to take his personality back, the film starts to kick into high gear.

The middle section of the film is the best. We know Dr. Staple has a few screws loose. We know that nothing is going to keep Glass locked in, once he has two strong superhero types to bust him out.

For much of this time, it seems like there will be a collision of fates at the new tower about to be unveiled across town. That there are twists at the end are expected. How many there are is more annoying than anything.

Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey. We get a good dose of her compassion thrown into the mix. While it certainly doesn’t hurt the film, it’s tough to reconcile how willing she is to be thrown into the field of battle she barely escaped last time.

The film is a decent companion to Split. Neither of the latter movies really have the power of Unbreakable, which is still the director’s masterwork. As it is, there’ve been two inferior sequels, but the trilogy still works if one can accept this as Night’s vision and not ours.

It’s clear that Shyamalan absorbed the ending of a few Halloween films (III and 5 in particular). It’s hard not to laugh whenever Paulson lisps her way through explanations. The ending doesn’t really leave one wanting to watch another film, but one can suppose it leaves the writer / director with ample room to move if this does decent box office.

(*** out of *****)

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