“Glass” is the superhero movie that director and writer M. Night Shyamalan thought you wanted. Buy you actually don’t.Remember the 2000 movie “Unbreakable” with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson? No? About the guy with bones that easily break but is super smart (Elijah, played by Jackson) and the guy who can’t break and is super strong (David, played by Willis). Starting to ring a bell?
Well, do you also remember “Split”? A 2016 movie with James McAvoy playing a guy with split personalities who kidnaps a bunch of girls and rambles on about “the Beast”— he was sort of a super personality?
With that refresher on movies you’ve probably forgotten, or perhaps never seen, Shyamalan brings all the characters back for a shared universe sequel. Like Marvel’s “Avengers,” but bad.
Elijah, David and McAvoy’s split-personality character with too many names to mention, wind up in a psychiatric ward. Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is trying to convince the three they don’t have superpowers, it’s all in their heads. Meanwhile, Elijah (who now prefers to be called Mr. Glass) forms an escape plan.
The film tries desperately to be a sophisticated superhero film. It’s not. It tries to add elements of horror. It doesn’t. It tries to celebrate comic books. It fails.
So what is it? A mess, that’s what it is.
Shyamalan’s script essentially has no plot. It meanders through the psych ward and, much like the characters, remains stuck there. The dialogue doesn’t resemble real human conversation. The script also treats viewers as the least-intelligent people out there, over-explaining everything lest we miss the basic heroes-versus-villains story “Glass” attempts to tell.
The lack of substance causes the acting to suffer. Willis, Jackson and McAvoy are a solid cast, but a terrible script is kryptonite for even the strongest actor. Willis is stiff and seems like he’s tired and doesn’t want to be there. Jackson’s character twitches through half the film in a sedated stupor, but enjoys being the baddie once he’s conscious. McAvoy does the best with what’s he’s got considering he’s playing more than 20 people in one body. He excels at giving each personality a distinct voice and body posture. But by the end, his performance loses what little spark it brought to the screen by overplaying the multi-personalities.
The worst part of the film is the constant comic book references. These aren’t the fun, pop culture easter eggs of Marvel of DC movies, they are generic references made by the characters. Elijah, a comic book aficionado, practically looks at the camera when he says things like “this is the part of the comic book where … ” The characters follow comic book tropes but make obvious, annoying references because they don’t trust the audience to get it.