GLASS is a superhero thriller written, produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is a sequel to Shyamalan’s previous films UNBREAKABLE (2000) and SPLIT(2016), cumulatively forming the Eastrail 177 Trilogy. All the main stars are present – Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard who reprise their Unbreakable roles, while James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy return as their Split characters.
The premise is the fight between good and evil, the good being the super hero David Dunn (Willis) and the bad the McAvoy split characters.
The film opens two years after the events of SPLIT. David Dunn (Willis) works with his now adult son Joseph (Clark) in using his superhuman abilities to protect people from criminals under a new alias known as “The Overseer”. This part is incredibly silly and unbelievable. David learns from Joseph that Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy), who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, has a group of cheerleaders held up in a warehouse. David goes to free them after discovering the fact out of pure coincidence but encounters one of Kevin’s personalities known as “The Beast,” and the ensuing fight spills out into the streets. The Philadelphia police department are called leading to the eventual capture of both David and Kevin. Why David is brought in is never really explained as he has done no harm. The two are sent to a mental institution where Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), David’s sworn enemy, in another wild coincidence, is being held.
Shyamalan introduces a new character into the story. Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is the head doctor of the mental institution and works with patients who claim to have special powers. In order to have them suppress those thoughts, she tries to persuade them that there is no such thing as superhuman powers and that they actually have a mental illness. Meanwhile, Elijah (Jackson) is secretly working with Kevin to unleash “The Beast” and expose the world to the existence of superheroes. With the help of “The Beast,” Elijah escapes but he is soon pursued by David, who again battles Kevin on the institution’s grounds. The Dr. Staple character is the silliest of all the characters – coming off as a pompous dumb bitch know-it-all who will obviously be roved wrong, cliche-wise at the end of the story.
At this point, the film appears to have gone through full circle with nothing at all accomplished.
GLASS is a trilogy of two UNBREAKABLE, SPLIT and this one. A word of warning that one must be familiar with the other two films or end up completely lost in following the plot or characters in GLASS. Director Shyamalan makes no attempt to update his audience to the current proceedings of GLASS.
One point of observation. This is the rare film where the actor Samuel L. Jackson’s character does not utter the ‘mf’ word.
Shyamalan make a guest cameo at a store in the film. He sees David Dunn and mentions that he recognizes the man from the stadium where Dunn used to work security, stating that he used to do shady things when younger. Those familiar with UNBREAKABLE will recall that Shyamalan gave himself a cameo in UNBREAKABLE selling drugs at the stadium.
There are many reasons that the word ‘split’ would apply to GLASS. One is the main character from SPLIT portrayed by Jame McAvoy who is also one of the lead characters in GLASS. Second, the film splits between the thriller and super action hero genres though unfortunately not blending well. The fight scenes are minimal and the thrills and suspense are also unimpressive. As GLASS contains two main characters, one from SPLIT and the other, the Bruce Willis superhero from UNBREAKABLE, there was debate regarding the film’s distribution. Distribution is now split. Universal now distributes the film in North American while Buena Vista (UNBREAKABLE was from Touchtone Pictures) internationally. Willis’ performance is stoic while McAvoy’s is downright crazy as he switches from one personality to another instantly. Director Shyamalan films often splits between the excellent (SIGNS, THE SIXTH SENSE, UNBREAKABLE, SPLIT, THE VISIT) and the duds (LADY IN THE WATER, THE LAST AIRBENDER, AFTER EARTH). Unfortunately, GLASS belongs to the latter category. Audiences will undoubtedly be split on whether liking or hating GLASS. But GLASS is long, boring, too dead serious on its subjects despite the general silliness overall.
At the promo screening, a fair portion of the audience stayed to the end of the closing credits as in SPLI there a was a surprise appearance of Bruce Willis at the ed of that film signalling the sequel GLASS. No such luck in GLASS.