Glass


2019

Glass (2019)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Glass displays a few glimmers of M. Night Shyamalan at his twisty world-building best, but ultimately disappoints as the conclusion to the writer-director's long-gestating trilogy.

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From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb's superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

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Critic Reviews for Glass

All Critics (329) | Top Critics (41)

There are a few thoughtfully placed cameras and thrilling moments - Bruce Willis vs. a door, for one - but they're not nearly enough to make this self-conscious live-action comic book worthwhile.

Jan 25, 2019 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…

Hollywood and its superhero franchises are all but coextensive, and Shyamalan's confrontation with the ubiquity, popularity, and dominance of superheroes gives "Glass" a second-level urgency.

Jan 21, 2019 | Full Review…

You have to admire Shyamalan's efforts to deconstruct a genre that he evidently loves, yet there is just so little to haunt or to fool us in the result, and a few sharp laughs might have helped his cause.

Jan 18, 2019 | Full Review…

Why was Shyamalan, who has directed at least four objective failures over the course of his career, allowed yet another chance to prove what a disappointment he can be?

Jan 18, 2019 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

The concept is intriguing but the emotional payoff is negligible, the surprise ending is feeble and the whole enterprise resembles a recycling bin.

Jan 18, 2019 | Full Review…

For those intrigued but not anticipating too much, it's the sort of flawed but reasonably entertaining effort that can be viewed as "Glass," half full.

Jan 18, 2019 | Full Review…
CNN.com
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Glass

½

I was reluctant to see Glass given the poor reviews, but I was curious as I had seen Unbreakable and Split and wanted to witness the conclusion. I was sitting in the theater waiting to be let down, and honestly, I really enjoyed it. Granted, the portrayal of mental illness in the film is problematic -- despite McAvoy's charismatic and impressive performance -- but the way the film flips the superhero genre on its head, dissects it, questions it, and keeps us guessing at each turn was extremely engaging. Not to mention it is gorgeously filmed. I found the film to be more interesting, thought-provoking, and better executed than most Marvel films I've seen over the past several years. I think the critics really got it wrong with this one, and I believe that it will age well as a film.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

James McAvoy is just as amazing as in Split, but even if there is a lot to commend here in terms of narrative, you don't need that much to realize that this apparently smooth surface has cracks, holes and a bunch of Shyamalan twists that pile up in a desperate attempt to surprise us.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

M. Night Shyamalan has had a wildly fluctuating career, but after 2017's killer hit Split he's officially back on the upswing and the Shyamalan bandwagon is ready for more transplants. At the very end of Split it was revealed it had secretly existed in the same universe as Unbreakable, Shyamalan's so-so 2000 movie about real-life superheroes. Fans of the original got excited and Shyamalan stated his next film was a direct sequel. Glass is the long-anticipated follow-up and many critics have met it with a chilly response. Shyamalan's comeback is still cruising, and while Glass might not be as audacious and creepy clever as Split it's still entertaining throughout its two-hour-plus run time. It's been 18 years since David Dunn (Bruce Willis) discovered his special abilities thanks to the brilliant but criminally insane Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a.k.a. "Mr. Glass." David has been going on "walks" from his security day job to right wrongs as "The Overseer," the rain slicker-wearing man who is incapable of being harmed (exception: water). He looks to stop David Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a.k.a. The Horde, a disturbed man inhabited by over dozens of personalities. David Dunn and Kevin are captured and placed in the same mental health facility as Elijah. The three are under the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who specializes in a specific form of mental illness with those who believe to be superheroes. She has only so many days to break through to these dangerous men or else more extreme and irrevocable measures might be taken. Shyamalan has a lot on his mind and spends much of the second half exploring the classical ideas of superheroes via Dr. Staple and her unorthodox therapy treatments. She's trying to convince each man they are simply wounded individuals and not superior beings blessed with superior powers. Because the audience already knows the fantastic truth, I'm glad Shyamalan doesn't belabor this angle and make the crux of the movie about her convincing them otherwise. The second act is something of a sleeping predator, much like the wheelchair-bound, brittle-bone Elijah Price. You're waiting for the larger scheme to take shape and the snap of the surprise, and Shyamalan throws out plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing (I've never been more glad that convenient news footage of a new skyscraper opening meant absolutely nothing for the final act setting). Part of the enjoyment is watching the characters interact together and play off one another. The conversations are engaging and the actors are uniformly good, so even these "slow parts" are interesting to watch. It's fun to watch both Willis and Jackson to slip right into these old characters and conflicts, but it's really McAvoy's movie once more, to our immense benefit. Between a ho-hum character who has accepted his ho-hum city guardian role, and an intellectual elite playing possum, the narrative needs Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde to do its heavy lifting. McAvoy is phenomenal again and seamlessly transitions from one personality to another, aided by Dr. Staple's magic personality-switching light machine. The command that McAvoy has and range he establishes for each character is impressive. He reserves different postures, different expressions, and different muscles for the different personas. I was genuinely surprised how significant Ana Taylor-Joy (Thoroughbreds) was as the returning character Casey, the heroine that escaped Kevin's imprisonment in Split. She's concerned for the well being of Kevin, the original personality who splintered into many as a means of protection from his mother's horrifying abuse. I was worried the movie was setting her up to be a disciple of Kevin's, looking to break him out having fallen under an extreme Stockholm syndrome. This is not the case. She actually has a character arc about healing that is important and the thing to save Kevin's soul. There are in-Kevin personalities here with more character arcs than the other famous leads. Shyamalan has been improving in his craft as a director with each movie, and stripping down to the basics for a contained thriller gave him a better feel for atmospherics and visual spacing with his frame. With Glass, the cinematography by Mike Gioulakis (It Follows, Us) smartly and elegantly uses color to help code the characters and the development of their psychological processes. The direction by Shyamalan feels a bit like he's looking back for a sense of visual continuity from his long takes and pans from Unbreakable, which places greater importance on the performances and precise framing. I think the disappointment expressed in many of the mixed-to-negative critical reviews comes down to a departure in tone as well as the capitalization of being an Unbreakable sequel. Both of the previous movies in this trilogy were less action vehicles than psychological thrillers that emphasized darker human emotions and personal struggle. Shyamalan purposely grounded them, as much as one can, in a sense of vulnerable realism, which only made both of their endings stick out a little more. The movies weren't about existing in a superhero universe but more so about unknown heroes and villains of comic-sized scale living amongst us every day. It was about the real world populated with super beings. Because of that tonal approach, Unbreakable was the epic tale of a security guard taking down one murderous home invader and surviving drowning. It was more the acceptance of the call, and part of that was getting an audience that had not been fed as much superhero mythos as today to also accept that secret reality hiding in plain sight. 18 years later, movie audiences have become highly accustomed to superheroes, their origins, and the tropes of the industry, so I was looking forward to Shyamalan's stamp. I think our new cultural environment gave Shyamalan the room to expand, and Glass moves into a less realistic depiction of these elements. It's not the gritty, understated, and more psychologically drawn dramas of his past. It's more comfortable with larger, possibly sillier elements and shrugging along with them. There are moments where characters will just flat-out name the tropes happening on screen, with straight-laced exposition. It can lead to some chuckles. I think fans of the original might find a disconnect in tone between the three films, especially with this capper. They might ask themselves, "I waited 18 years for these characters to just become like other supers?" And that refrain might be common as well, namely, "I waited 18 years for this?" While it's inherently true that a filmmaker doesn't owe fans anything beyond honest effort, an extended time between sequels does create the buildup of anticipation and the question of whether the final product was worth that excited expectation. Fans of Unbreakable might be somewhat disappointed by the fact that Glass feels like more of a sequel to Split. McAvoy is top-billed for a reason. Perhaps Shyamalan had more of a desire to foster the continuation from a recent hit than an 18-year-old movie. Whatever the rationale, David Dunn gets short shrift. After the opening segment, he's being institutionalized but he's not actively trying to escape. As a result, the attention focuses far more onto our two villains, and one of them doesn't says a word until an hour into the movie. This further exacerbates the disproportionate emphasis on Kevin Wendell Crumb (and The Horde). As stated above, I think that's where the emphasis should be because he has the most storytelling potential, and McAvoy is amazing. However, if you've been waiting 18 years for another face-off between Mr. Glass and the Unbreakable Man, then this might not seem like the special event you dreamt about. Shyamalan still has difficulty staging action sequences. The fights with David and The Beast are pretty lackluster and involve the same non-responsive choke hold moves. There are like half a dozen characters involved with the climactic showdown but half of them are bystanders waiting to be tapped in when the narrative needs them to console their fighter. I think the ending will also turn some people off for what it does and what it doesn't do (I'll avoid spoilers but will be speaking in vague terms this paragraph, so be warned, dear reader). The ending opens up a larger world that leaves you wanting more, even if it was only a passing scene acknowledging the resolution to the final actions. This holds true with an organization that you get only the smallest exposure to that adds to the deluge of questions seeking answers. It sets up a bigger picture with bigger possibilities that will ultimately be left unattended, especially if Shyamalan's recent interviews are to be taken at face value. What Glass does not do is play with the implications of its ending and explore the newer developments. The ending we do get is indeed ballsy. I gasped. Shyamalan takes some big chances with the direction he chooses to take his story, and I can admire his vision and sense of closure. On the other end, I know that these same decisions will likely inflame the same contingent of disgruntled and disappointed fans. Shyamalan's third (and final?) film in his Unbreakable universe places the wider emphasis on the three main characters and their interactions. While McAvoy and Kevin get the light of the spotlight, there are strong moments with Elijah and David Dunn. There are some nifty twists and turns that do not feel cheap or easily telegraphed, which was also a Shyamalan staple of his past. It's not nearly as good or unnerving as Split, the apex of the Shyamalanaissance, but it entertains by different means. If you were a fan of Unbreakable, you may like Glass, but if you were a fan of Split, I think you'll be more likely to enjoy Glass. It might not have been worth 18 years but it's worth two hours. Nate's Grade: B

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

½

World-building has become a trend recently, but everyone pretty much knows that by now. Ever since The Avengers hit the big screen back in 2012, everyone has been trying to copy this formula. That being said, it felt fresh when director M. Night Shyamalan put the twist at the end of the film Split, which connected it to the 2000 film Unbreakable. While it was clear that he was taking his idea from what was the most popular thing to do these days, it felt earned, as it was done very well-not feeling forced. Being someone who loves the film Unbreakable and enjoyed Split quite a bit, I had nothing but excitement every time I gazed upon the marketing for Glass, which would combine both storylines and bring them to their climactic finales. While there are many things about this film that will turn viewers off, this is a solid film that I enjoyed watching very much. Following the characters in their current state after the events of their respective films, we find David Dunn (Bruce Willis) on the hunt for "Kevin" (James McAvoy), as they're hunted down and captured, only to be placed in the same institution as Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson). These events eventually have each of them interacting at some point, but there is much more going on behind the scenes at this facility. Without getting into too many details, the setup and core story of this film is really the smallest aspect of what director M. Night Shyamalan is trying to get across here. This is where the movie is easily going to lose some viewers from the beginning. Being a sequel, equally to both Split and Unbreakable, it's almost pivotal that you see both films before feasting your eyes on this amalgamation. There are storylines that carry over from both films and revelations that will feel pretty much no impact if you haven't seen both. For this reason alone, I have to dock it a few points for feeling a little disjointed for newcomers. However, there are a few twists towards the end of the film that felt very rewarding for those who have invested themselves in both films and remember key moments. The final act of this film is a little too complex though. There was a lot to like about this film, overall, but I did feel Shyamalan getting a little too full of himself in terms of overly revealing certain things. Other than that, this was quite a pleasant experience. M. Night Shyamalan, no matter how great or how terrible his films have been throughout the years, has always had a great eye for how he wishes his films to look and feel. From the colour grading to the odd (yet unique) choices of cinematography, he is able to put his vision onscreen in a way that many filmmakers have yet to accomplish. Personally, if only he didn't have that long streak of misses, I believe he would've been known as one of the best filmmakers out there. While this is far from his best film, it shows that he still has potential and I'll be in the theatre for his next go. In the end, Glass is a risky film that explores the story of two separate films that came out nearly two decades apart from each other, but is ultimately worth the wait in my opinion. The conclusion does feel a little overstuffed in terms of revelations, but the majority of the film is very well-written, directed, and performed by these actors and actresses. From Bruce Willis giving his most devoted performance in years to the little, yet great screen time that Anya Taylor-Joy receives, I was grinning from ear to ear as I watched these characters onscreen once again. Overall, I would recommend Glass to fans of both films, but I can see this being ridiculed and neglected by some of those who haven't heard of Unbreakable and choose to go into this as a sequel to Split. Glass is a solid film with a few glaring issues, but I had a good time with it.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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