Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson, Charlayne Woodard
Writer-Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Runtime: 128 minutes
In his new film, Glass, M. Night Shyamalan does what he consistently does most often. If you’ve seen (m)any of his movies, you know what that is, and yes he does it again here.
Glass, in one movie, continues the stories from two of the twisty-turny filmmaker’s previous hits – Unbreakable and Split. You needn’t have seen either flick to follow the plotline of this movie, but if you have seen one or the other or especially both, it might determine more strongly how you react to the updated developments in Glass.
All three movies explore the theme of what it means to be “differently-human”, to coin a phrase, whether that means being super-human, or having traits that normal humans don’t have, good or bad, and whether being something beyond or different from a “normal” human is even possible.
In Unbreakable, Bruce Willis played former athlete turned security guard David Dunn, who somehow was the only survivor of a devastating commuter train crash that he emerged from without a scratch.
Samuel L. Jackson’s character in that movie from the year 2000 was Elijah Price, a comic book-fine arts aficionado who was born with a rare defect that made his bones extremely shatterable and earned him the nickname of Mr. Glass by his childhood associates.
The film explored why these two men seemed to be on opposite ends of the gene pool and why David Dunn seemed to display heroic characteristics.
Shyamalan’s Split, from 2016, delved into the dark recesses of the fractured, brilliant mind of a character named Kevin Crumb, whose psychiatrist diagnosed 23 distinct personalities within him and knew there was a 24th that would dominate all the others.
After Kevin, played by James McAvoy, kidnaps three teenage girls with malicious intent, the movie details the war for survival among all his different personalities as the walls that had contained them comes crashing down.
However those two movies ended, flash forward to 2019’s Glass, where Bruce Willis’ heroic David Dunn is out trying to track down Kevin, who has turned his game up to a monstrous level as he kidnaps and does more to groups of teenage girls around the city of Philadelphia, where all three characters, including Samuel Jackson’s Mr. Glass, reside. Mr. Glass orchestrates events and knows secrets critical to both Dunn and Kevin.
All three at this point, through the preceding years, have fashioned themselves, in their own minds at least, to be something more than “human” – to actually be super-human, for better or worse, as villain or hero, with superpowers, like in the comic books.
They all end up in a mental asylum, where a psychiatrist played by Sarah Paulson tries to convince them that everything the three of them think they have done on a superhuman level are actually coincidences based in reality and suggestion, no matter how farfetched it may seem, and that they have convinced themselves that what they consider their “powers” have made them believe they are more than normal human beings, when they are actually not.
Getting them to understand and believe that is what the psychiatrist thinks will be the cure to return all three individuals to “normal” well-adjusted thinking so that they can be resume their regular lives.
Glass does a good, engrossing job of getting everyone to that point. The story is riveting and mysterious, Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson are two old pros at the top of their game really having fun, and McAvoy goes bonkers playing all the different personalities inside of Kevin, changing them up at the drop of a hat.
And then M. Night Shyamalan happens and begins doing what M. Night consistently does. If you know what that is and you’re cool with it, then by all means see this movie. Just be glad it doesn’t run the three hours and 20 minutes he has said his original version of the film did. Hey M. Night – FOH.