Names that reference the Bible, ideas that come from comic books, stories that refer to superheroes. There is a lot going on in Glass, an ambitious film from M Night Shyamalan, seeking to establish his own superhero franchise. A bit too much perhaps.
Like always, Shyamalan’s strength is the spooky situations in which his deceptively modest characters find themselves. Glass is a sequel, once removed, to his innovative Unbreakable, which presented an unusual origin story for a superhero and a supervillain, and how one is required for the other. In the middle came Split, a film where McAvoy’s Kevin harboured 24 personalities as a patient of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and had only a tangential link with Unbreakable. Glass seeks to bring Unbreakable and Split together, in a not-too-convincing whole, with Kevin now presented as a superhero of another kind.
Glass movie cast: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark
Glass movie director: M Night Shyamalan
Glass movie rating: 2.5 stars
Glass mixes the films up by putting Unbreakable’s Elijah/Mr Glass (Jackson) and David Dunn/Overseer (Willis), in the same mental facility as Split’s Kevin/David/Patricia/The Beast/etc, etc. There an embarrassingly inept psychiatrist named Dr Ellie Staple (Paulson) tries to “treat” the three, her speciality being ridding people of “delusions of grandeur”, or the thought that they have “superpowers”. While Staple makes no cogent attempts towards that, the film itself stumbles along throwing high-sounding, comic-fan stuff at us.
Since we parted with Elijah and David 19 years ago, Elijah has been at this facility, where the brittle-boned genius has been apparently reduced to a drugged mute, immobile in a wheelchair. Of course, anybody who looked at CCTVs closely at that “well-guarded facility” would know better. Meanwhile, in the outside world, David, who was made aware of his superhero powers by Elijah, has been saving the world as he can, and acquired the title Overseer. For costume, David wears a rain poncho, which covers his eyes more than his face, and like all superheroes, operates in the grey zone of do-gooder/vigilante. Kevin has been around only the past couple of years, and since we last left him preying on young women in Split, is continuing to do the same, till David ensures he is caught.
There is also Clark, reprising his role as David’s son Joseph, who is the only one aware of David’s powers, apart from Elijah. He helps his father’s superhero endeavours through GPS, monitoring police chatter etc. From the film Split, drops in Casey (Taylor-Joy), who was one of Kevin/The Beast’s victims in that film but has put all that behind her.
Shyamalan juggles all these pieces together in that mental facility, cracks some feeble jokes at tall buildings that are a “marvel” and heroes that “avenge” (said by Jackson himself, the Nick Fury of The Avengers), packs in characteristic plot twists of which some you see coming from afar, and promises a bigger end and a larger meaning than the film eventually delivers.