Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Glass follows on from 2017’s Split as Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) and the multiple identities who reside within him have taken more girls hostage. Using his supernatural abilities, 2000’s Unbreakable David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is trying to track him down. When both are arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital run by Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), they meet the wheelchair-bound Mr Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) who holds secrets critical to both men.
Glass is the sequel that none of us were expecting. When Split was released in 2017, it came as a huge surprise to find out that it was related to 2000’s Unbreakable, and that a third film bringing the two together was going to be released soon after.
Not knowing how these films were going to connect, all we needed was for Glass to do one thing: to show us how these two films had anything to do with each other. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to remember this until the final 30 minutes when we are thrown three major twists that try to convince us that this is something that we wanted to happen along.
The film relies on the concept that the main characters believe they are superheroes. However, it does nothing to convince us of this until Samuel L. Jackson‘s titular Mr Glass announces his observations after having sat silently for most of the first half.
The first half of the film is obviously a set up for something much bigger – we expect nothing less from the man of big twists – but so little is revealed that we don’t know what we are waiting for. There’s a lot of talking between our main characters and Sarah Paulson‘s Dr Staple, so it takes a good while to get into. Mr Glass eventually helps us to understand the link between these characters, but it’s not enough to be told what’s going on right at the end; the film needed to use these twists more gradually and explore this intelligent and well-crafted concept much earlier on.
It’s obvious that Glass was a passion project for Shyamalan; you can tell that he had a really good idea in his head and that he wanted to “break the genre” of superhero films, but he doesn’t put pen to paper for a lot of it. The twists that come at the end are well constructed and do make everything click in your head, by the time that they are revealed, nothing is able to come of them as it’s far too late for anything to be done with them.
The film’s biggest problem is that it definitely couldn’t have worked as a stand-alone film, as it heavily relies on knowledge of the previous films, one of which was released 19 years ago. Not only did we need some better context at the start, reminding us of how the story has developed so far and how these characters are aware of each other, there also needed to be some much better character development to invest us in wanting these three characters in the same room together in the first place.
Overall, Glass is a well made and sophisticated film that you can see the potential breaking through of at the end. However, the concept doesn’t work as well as it could have and the trilogy, therefore, feels very forced, with this final instalment failing to spark enough interest at the beginning to really have any impact.
The only thing that is really certain is that James McAvoy is incredible. And maybe that it is still worth paying money at the cinema to see a film with Bruce Willis in?
Glass is currently in UK cinemas, but you can pre-order the DVD on Amazon here.