- Movie Rating -

Glass (2019)

| January 17, 2019

Glass is, what in comic book terms, would be called a crossover.  Therein, two characters from different story-lines are flung together into a crisscrossing story to see how their powers and personalities clash.  Very often this happens with a hero and a villain and sometimes with a villain and a villain.  In Glass it’s both – two characters from M. Night Shyamalan’s 2000 superhero epic Unbreakable are thrown into the mix with the lead from 2016’s Split.  Sadly, Glass is not as creative as it could be.  It turns out to be, in movie terms, a let-down.

If you’ve seen both Unbreakable and Split than you know what an irresistible idea this is: the weak-bodied mastermind Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) teams up with Kevin “The Beast” Crumb (James McAvoy) to defeat the super-strong David Dunn (Bruce Willis).  This sounds like a must tastier set-up then it really is.  Shymalan is known for his creative twist endings but I’m afraid you will walk out of Glass frustrated and unsatisfied.  There are so many possibilities here based on what has been built up that it is kind of disappointing that this one turns out to be just another stalking-orderlies-in-a-hospital scenario.

In the previous two films Shymalan worked hard to play a slow and steady hand.  Unbreakable and Split worked because they burned slowly, building a tense world in which superheroes and supervillains exist on the real tera firma – his is a Marvel-style universe on our own turf, questioning how the scenarios of The Avengers might be questioned by our own medical and psychological experts.  Those films chaired such notions in the world of hard psychology but it was loose enough that we could gain a foothold and still witness to something that felt new.

In Glass that psychology takes a much more literal stance – too literal and the movie becomes a genre piece.  The three players literally find themselves inside the walls of a mental institution fending off questions from a well-meaning doubting-Thomas named Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) before the movie falls into the old trap of killing off faceless supporting players one by one.  Yes, the two villains get together but when they do, it’s like the movie doesn’t know where to go.  It’s odd to say about a Shymalan movie but, you’ve seen this movie before.

The idea of Glass is much more interesting than the conclusions that it concocts.  The better scenes are at the beginning as we spend a great deal of time catching up with David Dunn as he spends his off-time as a hooded vigilante named The Overseer – he has become such a media sensation that he now has the cops on his tail.

Meanwhile Elijah Glass, the man who declares himself Dunn’s cosmic hero/villain opposite sits catatonic in a wheelchair (for a while) behind the walls of a mental institution and before long is joined by David and Kevin.  That sets up a lot of really interesting questions.  What is Dr. Staple playing at?  Why does she want these three together?  Is Elijah playing a game with everyone?  If so, what?  Why, in Dr. Staple’s sessions does she try and convince them that they are all delusional?

The answers, I’m afraid, don’t really matter.  I’m straining not to give away too much, but I’ll just say that if you were taken in by the previous two films then this one will let you down.  It has less of a narrative drive and seems to aim more for gimmicks.  Plus, it arrives at a third act that I’m not sure that anyone is going to believe or even like.  It’s one of those endings that probably meant more to Shymalan than it will to us.  It’s a let-down.  Glass contains glimpses here and there of a movie that could have been great but it is undone by a lot of bad decisions and, again, an ending this is more of question mark than an exclamation point.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2019) View IMDB Filed in: Drama, Horror