Anyone who has watched movies from the late 90s till present day has come across M. Night Shyamalan in some form, whether it’s a scathing opinion of his adaptation of The Last Airbender or the parodies of his over-reliance of his convoluted twist. He has become a pop culture icon but when we look back at his merits as a filmmaker, they are not very solid, sided more on the negatives. This, sadly, cheapened the legacy of his hits like the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Decades passed and on 2016, the highly anticipated Split is released, getting positive reviews and beginning Shyamalan’s redemption arc.
The down-to-earth superhero mythology that Shyamalan had set up with the trilogy was given its finale with the 2019 release of Glass. 19 years of build-up, sadly, led to disappointment. There are going to be spoilers ahead from here on. Glass follows the after credit sequence of Split, which set up Unbreakable’s David on the hunt from the Horde. After dealing with some YouTube nobodies playing the Knockout Game, David, named now the Overseer, locates cheerleaders kidnapped by the Horde for the Beast to eat. The confrontation between the Beast and the Overseer finally lands blows only to be ended faster than you can say, M. Night Shyamalan.
They are taken to a mental hospital under the care of Dr. Ellie Staples who has also brought in the villain from Unbreakable, Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass. She believes the three of them have one thing in common, they all have delusions of being superheroes and tries to convince them otherwise. There is also a side story with all the associates of Glass, Dunn, and Crumb but they barely matter. Most of the movie is centered around Glass’ attempted at the Great Escape from the hospital with the Horde, aiming to sike him on to this new tower in Philadelphia, strangely called the Osaka Tower and have him fight David Dunn fight the Beast for a live crowd and unveil the existence of superhumans. In the words of Tyler the Creator, so that was a fucking lie. They barely get passed the parking lot.
Dunn and the Beast tussle for a while with the choreography of a toddler fight club till these Spec Ops team comes and shoots the Beast after Casey from Split helps him turn to Kevin Wendall Crumb again and David Dunn, a man who survived a train crash and benchpress over 500 lbs, was drowned. In a puddle. A FUCKING PUDDLE IN THE PARKING LOT!! Well, that was before Staples revealed that she was part of this Secret Society who tries to get rid of superheroes and keeps them hidden. Oh yeah, Mr. Glass died by falling down off of his wheelchair, after having his chest caved in by the Beast who was told that the accident that Glass used to make Dunn superhuman also killed Crumb’s father. All the while the subverted Chekov’s Gun, the Osaka Tower, uses cheap CGI to rotate its ugly solar panels.
So in the last 20 minutes or so, after such a convoluted and noisy “fight” scene, we are hit with more twists than Chan Sung Jung in half guard.
1. The secret society wanted to convince them that they were not superhuman, if that failed, they would kill them. Also, it was weird that they met in a public restaurant only speaking after people left. Like, meet somewhere else; that was more inconspicuous.
2. Glass never wanted to the Osaka Tower. The plan was to use the cameras that Staple installed to use to keep an eye on Glass to capture the fight and send it to Casey, Dunn’s kid, and his mom to upload.
The Secret Society was introduced for 15 minutes only to be shut down shortly after. The movie ends with David’s son, Casey, and Glass’ Mom holding hands while the video starts to spread out.
The movie was an insult to anyone who was emotionally invested in the characters from Unbreakable and Split. In the case of James McAvoy’s The Horde, it wasn’t very hard. His performance was a tour de force and a huge selling point of Split. But in Glass, it could not hold it on its back no matter how much obvious effort he put into it. Everyone else dragged him down to their level. Samuel L. Jackson was sedated for most of the movie and when he was allowed to speak again, his dialogue sounded as if it was written verbatim from listening to a meth addict’s insane ramblings. There was humor in seeing the scenes in Unbreakable shown as flashbacks because they showed how obvious it was that young Bruce Willis actually gave a shit. Present day Bruce Willis looked like he couldn’t even be bothered.
This is by no means an untalented cast, but these were woeful performance. The camera work was pedestrian. The soundtrack was forgettable. The negatives to the movie all seem to point at a one person; Shyamalan. His attempt at a subversion of the superhero genre worked with the previous two entries yet in Glass, it was so caught up in subverting expectation and plot twist, it forgot to be an entertaining movie. Now, art is definitely subjective and there can be debates on artistic intent all day, but a big budget movie can’t be self-serving to the director’s intent. The audience matters and with the Glass, the audience was left disappointed and bored.
Shyamalan as a creator is a talented man but I think his delusions of grandeur and complete disregard of criticism, seen in how he views them with the critic in the Lady in the Water, has left him from being one of the greats into a “What a Twist” GIF joke from Robot Chicken. I have nothing personal against Shyamalan as a person and with all the hope in the world, I was riding the M. Night train going anywhere, even though one was the stops was The Happening.
My final thoughts with Glass are it was a below average movie. Yet, it did decent in the box office. With a Rotten Tomato score of 36 percent Critic Score (the audience score was far more positive), the box office doesn’t tell the whole story. Me watching this movie in an empty theater at prime time just 10 days after release probably paints a more accurate one.