The third installment of Shyamalan’s trilogy cracks under pressure

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The third installment of Shyamalan’s trilogy cracks under pressure

Photo courtesy of slate.com

Photo courtesy of slate.com

Photo courtesy of slate.com

Photo courtesy of slate.com

Alexander Helmer

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It’s hard not to go into “Glass” without a sense of excitement, anxiously awaiting the lights to dim as the AMC A-List members are thanked. Most of this is due to the fact that “Glass” had been one of the most anticipated films in 2019, for me and many others. This is most explicitly exemplified by the fact that people in various crowds that I witnessed didn’t chuckle or howl at the sight of the name “M. Night Shyamalan” in the trailers, but instead thought of the fabulous work that he’s done recently like “Split” and “The Visit”, masterpieces compared to “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth.” Buzz for Shyamalan’s highly anticipated thriller was rapid. However, this all changed when the movie went black and people like me sat there, stared at the screen and said: “This is pathetic”.

“Glass” is a continuation of both “Unbreakable” (2000) and “Split” (2016). The film stars Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, both reprising their roles as Mr. Glass and David Dunn from “Unbreakable,” while James McAvoy will leave his signature wheelchair behind from the recent hit X-Men films in order to reprise his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb from “Split.” Mr. Glass, or Elijah Price, was born with a genetic disorder which left his bones extremely brittle but has an extremely intelligent intellect. Price’s obsession with comic books led to the character of David Dunn. Dunn was involved in a train crash in which he was the only survivor. He then discovered that he had superpowers of super strength as well as being able to have visions of one’s sins by touching them. Long story short, near the end of “Unbreakable,” Dunn shakes Price’s hand only to have a vision of Price being the cause of several past terrorist attacks, including the train wreck that Dunn was involved in. Elijah explains that he caused these accidents in order to find his counterpart and to find his role in the world, the role of a supervillain. Crumb, on the other hand, suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and has 23 distinct personalities. “Glass” is the concluding chapter of this trilogy. Now before I go into full detail let me say this, the film is all subjective. If you liked “Glass” then I applaud you for being able to get some enjoyment out of it. Don’t feel bad about it or change your opinion based on what critics are saying. Now let me get straight to it, this film is terrible. Now, it’s not a total pile of dog crap or a crime against humanity like some of his other films, however, Shyamalan has taken a film with such promise and potential and thrown it off the roof of a building. As a fan of many of his previous films like “Unbreakable” and “Split,” and a passenger on the hype train thanks to the trailers for “Glass,” I’ve found myself dumbfounded by this disaster.

First and foremost, the pacing in this film is absolutely horrendous. The film is a slow and terribly written grind that leads to an unsatisfying conclusion. Now unlike “Unbreakable,” “Glass” is packed full of uninteresting dialogue, after uninteresting dialogue, and leads up to a clunky conclusion and a twist that doesn’t match up with the rest of the film. Most of this is due to Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of “Dr. Ellie Staple”. Staple is as one-dimensional as you can get and is only in the film as an obstacle for the three main characters. I can’t stress this enough but she says THE SAME THING OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER AGAIN. Exchanging the same lines with all three of the characters multiple times becomes very tiresome and is just plain bad writing. If you’re going to have a film packed with long conversations, then make the dialogue intriguing enough for the audience to be fascinated. If not, then you have to construct a conclusion which warrants these long back-and-forths which this film doesn’t do.

Shyamalan’s characters come off as underwhelming. With the exception of McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb who I will get too later in the article, both Mr. Glass and David Dunn come off as lackluster. You would think that for a movie named after him, that Mr. Glass would have a more prominent role on the film, however, this isn’t the case as Mr. Glass is barely actually in the movie and when his big master plan starts to develop, it’s over before you could even say “M. Night Shyamalan”. Although Samuel L. Jackson comes off as charming and witty for his brief time in the film, I cannot say the same about Bruce Willis. Shyamalan wrote Willis’s character in this movie as he usually is cast as in Hollywood these days, a wise old man. Willis’s Dunn feels like an afterthought in the film as he barely has any dialogue. What happened to the wonderful, emotional back-and-forths between Price and Dunn in “Unbreakable”? This connects back to my previous point as the movie focuses so much on Dr. Staple’s role in the film and her interactions with the characters, that the Price, Dunn dilemma isn’t touched upon.

The most frustrating problem with this movie is the fact that it feels like Shyamalan is shoving a comic book into the viewers face in order to pander to the comic book-loving audience instead of integrating these references and the comic book related symbolism into the story. If you have a great metaphor to tell, you shouldn’t have to remind the viewer about it every two minutes in order for them to understand it (if I had a penny for every time “superhero” was stated in this film then I would be beyond rich). “Unbreakable” was able to incorporate the comic book theme and character choices into its story and in this film, it feels pathetic.

There are multiple twists in the film, one involving Staple’s character that just seems shoehorned in and cliche. The other twist at the end is more of a symbolic end for our characters but is much too unsatisfying for a trilogy in the works for over 15 years

Although “Glass” is a bad film, it’s main standout is James McAvoy. McAvoy delivers an Oscar-caliber performance as he adds to the number of personalities that he portrayed previously. Crumb is a deep and interesting character and is the main reason that I don’t absolutely despise this film.

I’m not sure where Shyamalan goes after this as what was supposed to be the heart and soul of this universe wound up to be it’s biggest disappointment. “Glass” has so many problems, including some that I didn’t even speak of, even though McAvoy delivers a mesmerizing performance. I wouldn’t recommend this film to any who are interested in it.