M. Night Shyamalan has established his career making films that are outside the Hollywood norm.
Nineteen years ago, Shyamalan’s then-underrated masterpiece “Unbreakable” was released and made audiences question whether they might have extraordinary abilities.
In 2017’s “Split,” Shyamalan scared us with the mind’s potential and how beliefs concerning our own abilities might have physical manifestations, leading to a new universe of possibilities.
In “Glass,” the concluding chapter of this superhero trilogy, Shyamalan continues to prove that he is just as dedicated to his artistic individuality as ever.
The film picks up over a decade after the events of “Unbreakable.” David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis, roams the streets, dealing out vigilante justice to criminals as the hero, “The Overseer.”
After learning of the threat posed by the villain known as “The Horde,” played by James McAvoy, Dunn begins to search in earnest to stop this super-foe.
Their first confrontation leads to an intense battle, the conclusion of which lands them both in a dubious psychiatric facility for those who believe that they are superheroes — a facility that happens to be the home of the criminal mastermind Elijah Price, also known as “Mr. Glass,” played by Samuel L. Jackson.
This hospital houses some of the most powerful individuals in their world, and things are not as they seem.
Plans slowly unravel and anyone who is susceptible to deceit will be deceived — audience included.
This movie, while not without sizable flaws, shows that Shyamalan’s creativity and innovation on screen remains unparalleled. The most major issues with the film stem from select few narrative decisions made towards the end of the third act that left many feeling somewhat empty or disappointed. Additionally, Dunn’s character is left behind in terms of development and has much less to do with the events that transpire than fans of “Unbreakable” would have preferred.
However, the film retains its integrity through Shyamalan’s directorial genius. Rather than relying on extensive effects and CGI, Shyamalan continues to use intelligent scene construction, inventive camerawork, provoking lighting and persistently unique perspective to enthrall audiences in even the slowest of sequences.
McAvoy, Jackson and Willis all return to their roles in resounding fashion and give their all on screen. The chemistry between all three presences is fantastic, and the actors’ dedication to both their craft and their characters buoys the film throughout some of its more unsatisfactory moments.
“Glass” is a film that will have most audiences leaving the theater with an intense conflict brewing within them.
The film’s terrific characters, cinematography, continuity with previous entries and thought-provoking narrative keep one riveted throughout. Suspense is often palpable, and the audience is never left without a profound thought or question to consider.
However, the ending of the film forces audience members to question the very foundation of the thriller they just saw, as well as the prior films in the trilogy.
So, is “Glass” another misunderstood Shyamalan masterpiece or is it simply a misguided attempt to capitalize on pop culture nostalgia?
Ultimately, too much cinematic genius is on display in “Glass” to not appreciate it for what it is — an inventive psychological examination of the idea of comic book heroes and villains being present in our world.
When “Unbreakable” was released, most wrote it off as a kooky and boring attempt to make a superhero movie. Now, “Unbreakable” is recognized as the masterpiece that it certainly is.
To write “Glass” off for merely making unexpected decisions in the third act is to deny oneself the chance to internalize the acute inquests that arise from the unique perspective proposed throughout its narrative.
In the end, open-minded audience members will find that we are the objects that can most easily be shattered.