When writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” ended with a connection to his 2000 film “Unbreakable,” it put into motion the inevitable extension of both worlds into a spinoff.
That finally comes to fruition with “Glass,” a film where Shyamalan attempts to make his own comic book world to expand the mythology of the previous two films.
While that seems promising on paper, “Glass” proves to be the very worst of Shyamalan – an arrogant piece of filmmaking that is nothing more than a contrived mess of comic book psychobabble that wears thin very quickly.
“Glass” picks up where “Split” left off with the multiple personality serial killer Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) still on the run, this time having just kidnapped four more teenage girls.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the man who believes he has superpowers after being the sole survivor of a train crash 19 years ago, is now working along with his son (Spencer Treat Clark) as a security guard who moonlights as a vigilante fighting crime. Dunn hunts down Crumb in an attempt to save the girls, resulting in a showdown halted when the police arrive with a psychiatrist named Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson).
Staple has her own plans for Dunn and Crumb, putting them in a psychiatric ward with Dunn’s old nemesis Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) where she plans to prove that the three men’s beliefs that they have superpowers are just psychological disorders that can be easily explained away.
Staple’s plans quickly backfire when Crumb and Price team up, with Dunn the only person who can stop them.
I’ll admit I was not a fan of “Split” or “Unbreakable,” although I understand the admiration for “Split.” But the problems with “Glass” go far beyond being an extension of two subpar films.
Most of the film is a lot of comic book lore that is clearly Shyamalan trying to create his own comic book lore. It basically leads to a lot of windbag monologues where the characters never actually say anything of substance, but just speak in a language that only serves to advance the contrived plot.
Paulson’s character gets the most of this wretched dialogue – a character so two-dimensional that the performance is doomed from the start. Not even someone as talented as Paulson can keep this character from being a major hindrance to the entire proceeding.
McAvoy, who was the saving grace of “Split,” doesn’t have the same menace here as he did in the previous film – with his multipersonalities overplayed, and sometimes used for some weird attempts at humor. There is also a subplot with the girl he abducted in “Split” (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) which implies this creepy Stockholm Syndrome-type relationship between the two.
The only character that truly works is Jackson’s Price, but his character doesn’t really get going until deep into the film’s second half – injecting the plot with life way too late to matter.
It all builds to the usual Shyamalan twists and turns – none of which are really that surprising or impressive – and the hints that this world could expand even more.
That’s perhaps the only scary thing to come from “Glass.”