James McAvoy Sarah Paulson Bruce Willis Samuel L. Jackson
Anya Taylor-Joy Spencer Treat Clark Charlayne Woodard
M. Night Shyamalan has written and directed a number of films (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water) that seem to have a hit or miss quality about them, at least from film critics’ points of view. Glass is intended to be the third in a trilogy with Unbreakable and Split, neither of which was up to his first success, Sixth Sense. It is a sequel with promise, but falls short, partly because of a complicated story that contains multiple back stories, but mostly because of the editing, which forces the viewer to spend too much time wondering what is being portrayed in many scenes. Perhaps devotees of M. Night Shyamalan’s previous two films, Unbreakable and Split, the first two parts of a trilogy, of which Glass is the third, will be able to establish precedence and context to certain scenes, but the general public will be frustrated in trying to figure out what is going on, particularly in the beginning scenes.
The main players are: 1) Kevin Crumb (McAvoy), an established master at portraying dissociative identity disorder (DID), who has multiple personalities, one of which is a superhuman hunk capable of, say, overturning cars, another of which is a nine year-old with a lisp. An abusive mother is the cause of his problems. 2) David Dunn (Willis) has a security business with his son Joseph (Clark), who believes his father has superhuman powers, but knows he is to keep quiet about it. David is committed to preventing crimes from happening through his tactile sensitivity, whereby he can sense when someone is doing something wrong and goes about trying to stop it. 3) Elijah Price (Jackson) having grown up with a bone disease that makes his bones extremely fragile, decides, based upon his expertise in comics, that there must be the opposite of weaknesses such as his—superheroes, who have extraordinary strengths. The movie does have a clever way of showing how each of these characters confronts his weakness and develops a superpower, but logic about their existence soon falls away. In a grandiose turn showing his supreme confidence in his belief, Elijah goes about convincing Kevin and David that they are indeed superheroes.
Once again in this last of a loosely connected trilogy, James McAvoy is the most interesting aspect of a film about disturbed individuals. I don’t know if he necessarily captures the actual DID disorder, but he is entertaining in his ability to be so many personalities. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson have roles that they could easily “phone in”, but certainly provide more interest than would be there otherwise. The addition of a psychiatrist (Paulson) and her staff at the mental hospital once again implies that the care in such places is self-serving rather than to help patients. Paulson is a fine actress, but she is wasted here.
In short, Glass is overly ambitious and too reliant on sketchy scenes to provide necessary information to follow the convoluted story, so many times it comes across as a jumbled mess. Although it has been shown that many people can turn weaknesses into strengths, a man becoming a super-hero as a result is hardly a possibility.
This Glass is less than half full.