‘Blu-ray or Bust’
GLASS (2019, PG-13, 129 minutes, BLUMHOUSE/BLINDING EDGE PICTURES)
I think there comes a certain responsibility as a filmmaker who chooses to write and direct his own series of films to his audience.
Continuity, detail, and respect for their own material and characters seems of paramount importance—to me, at least. Honestly, what the hell do I know, though? I am basically just a trumped-up fan of cinema, a geek with a voice, a dork waffle with an outlet.
But whatever M. Night Shamalamadingdong is smoking should be banned.
I am a big fan of UNBREAKABLE and SPLIT, the two films Mr. Shyamalan wrote and directed that are the predecessors to this third entry. Each of the films, like their titles, focus on one of three characters, insomuch that, if you had to boil each character down to their most basic of descriptions, fits each perfectly. UNBREAKABLE was the story of David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the sole survivor of a train wreck that discovers he is indeed unbreakable. SPLIT introduced audiences to a man (the amazing James McAvoy) with multiple—or split—personalities, just as much a villain as Dunn was a hero.
With GLASS, Mr. Shyamalan reintroduces us to “Mr. Glass”, Dunn’s archenemy from the first film. He is called Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) because he suffers from a rare disorder that makes his bones extremely brittle. Therein lies his only weakness, although his mind makes up for that big-ass lack of calcium. His brain is supposedly so much better than everyone else’s, making him a mental force to be reckoned with. His brand of evil is particular, even though he follows the comic book rules he touts as a lifestyle. He’s smarter than everyone else, yet he adheres to the predictable coda set forth in the same comics that he collects and sells, or at least did prior to his incarceration in UNBREAKABLE. Seems kinda dumb, if you ask me.
GLASS does not lack for action; the viewer is treated to a showdown early on between The Beast and Dunn, yet reality intercedes, and they are both apprehended and placed in the same institution as Mr. Glass. The ensuing game of cat and mouse is entertaining, and one of the film’s most effective scenes is when all three are in the same room together, being treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sara Paulson of “American Horror Story” fame). Staple is an emotionless overseer, a scientist who claims to have the cure for those that think they are super-human. If comic books and films have taught us anything, it is that if something can go spectacularly wrong, it most certainly will.
Mr. Shyamalan creates visuals that are memorable and, on occasion, downright haunting. He keeps much of The Beast’s violence off-screen, a trick he has used to great effect throughout his films. Yet it is a nuance which we have come to expect from him, and here, seems to be the only technique he learned from master storyteller Alfred Hitchcock, the man that perfected that move. Mr. McAvoy’s performance is just as good as it was in SPLIT, and at times his range shines through. Yet this is not his film, and, with the title seemingly saying that the focus will be on Mr. Glass, much time is spent on Ms. Paulson’s character. This makes the narrative choppy, and doesn’t give quite the payoff fans of the previous two films might be expecting.
As usual, no spoilers, but the big showdown at the end is more of a big letdown. Mr. Shyamalan doesn’t respect certain characters enough to give them a decent enough endgame (yeah, I know), and one particular act feels offensive. It is almost as if he is introducing one tiny aspect of reality at the end, one which we should accept as a stroke of genius, but feels more like a kick in the naughty bits.
Bad way to end a great trilogy, dude. Never take your audience out of the game.
Special Features: C
Blu-ray Necessary: Only if you must, but you wouldn’t be missing out on much with the regular format
- T.S. Kummelman