Before we delve into the overall mood of M. Night Shyamalan’s next entry in the Unbreakable franchise, Glass, we need to make something clear: M. Night Shyamalan makes two types of movies, which we can classify clearly. The first type is Stereotypical Shyamalan, which includes lazy writing, bad acting, and a guaranteed (though not always necessary) plot twist. The Happening is a popular example of Stereotypical Shyamalan. Between Mark Wahlberg’s acting, and the fact that it’s the wind causing the mass suicides (seriously?), it’s a wonder the film ever got put into production.
The second type is Surprising Shyamalan, which includes okay writing, decent acting, and a plot twist that almost no one could have seen coming until they’ve watched the movie more than once. That second type is clearly evident in Unbreakable, the first film in the Shyamalan superhero trilogy, and honestly, a pretty good way to start a trilogy. Nobody realized that Elijah Price was the true villain until the very memorable ending of the movie, but upon watching the film again, the evidence is present from the beginning. It’s that memorable ending, paired with the fact that ol’ M. Night got one past us that changes our perspective of the movie as a whole.
Somehow, Glass fits into both of these categories. On the stereotypical side, there’s the usual suspects that come with a film written, directed, and produced by M. Night Shyamalan. Expect a lot of awkward pauses between sentences, as well as tons of clunky dialogue. It feels as though three-quarters of screen time are occupied by close-up shots of each lead, as if Shyamalan thought that the representation of the close-up would be artistic in giving a forced perspective of the situation, but in reality, it was somewhat annoying and definitely did not come off as artistic.
On the surprising side, however, was how great the acting felt compared to the other two films. James McAvoy really amped up his Kevin Wendell Crumb, showing a completely new side to The Horde (the official name of Kevin Wendell Crumb’s 24 personalities) that was very satisfying and surprising to see. However, the leads of the trilogy have always been amazing in their roles.
Where the real shock comes is in the supporting cast. Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clark both reprise their roles as Casey Cooke and Joseph Dunn, respectively, and truly shine. When Clark appeared in Unbreakable at the young age of 13, he did not at the time have the full discipline of acting range. This is clear in the way that he did not seem at all panicked when attempting to test his theory about his dad being bulletproof in the gun scene of Unbreakable. It’s true, he thought that his father had superpowers, but he was a kid who was pointing a gun at his father. As well, Taylor-Joy came off as robotic and lacking emotion in Split, though to be fair, her character was in an extremely traumatic situation, being held captive by a seemingly crazy man who liked to cross-dress and act like a nine-year-old. Strangely, this trauma seems to have had a positive affect on her life, and the film makes a point to show how her life is after her kidnapping. The film truly feels like it was more about the impact that Dunn, Crumb, and Price made on their loved ones, and not in a bad way.
Of course, there was the mandatory insertion of M. Night attempting to make himself as popular a cameo guy as Matt Damon by writing himself into the script. He reprises his role from Unbreakable and Split (yes, it is a coincidence that this man happens to be involved in all of the superhero situations in that area) in an entertaining small role that has no significance to the plot whatsoever except to grill Joseph Dunn when he doesn’t allow his father to take a damn walk. “Taking a walk” is the code phrase that David and Joseph use when David feels like acting as a vigilante. Something which, disappointingly, we are not able to see very often in the movie. The film makes the terrible mistake of brushing over what David and his son have been up to for the past 19 years.
The inclusion of Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Ellie Staple seems redundant, seeing as her character and motives were not developed or even hinted at in past films. The arbitrary deadline given to her to effectively evaluate and force Dunn, Price, and Crumb into changing their perspective is yet another example of a good old-fashioned Hollywood cliché. It also seems as though during the course of the film, Staple was attempting to change the audience’s mind regarding the existence of superpowers rather than the morality of the actual superpowers. Her clunky explanation of each seemingly impossible act carried out by each character is kind of ridiculous considering we, the audience, have seen it all happen.
The film definitely has a plot problem, with a lot of the elements of the situation being left up to chance and not having any solid footing in the real world, but that’s Hollywood. Being totally subjective, Glass, however flawed, is still a solid entry in what turned out to be one of the best examples of a superhero genre set in the real world and put on the silver screen.